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National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration 

Marshall Space Flight Center 

For sale by the 

Superintendent of Documents 
U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washington. DC. 20402 



University of 

Illinois Library 

a tUrtaan**Ch*rr?aign 


FEB 2 01986 

Xt urban*champa»gn 


he Marshall Space Flight Center 
marks its 25th anniversary with a 
record of notable achievements: 

> Launch vehicle for the free 
world's first manned spacecraft 

> World's largest launch vehicles 

> Launch vehicles that sent man to the moon 

> World's only manned lunar surface vehicle 

> Free world's first space station 

> Nation's largest orbital observatories 

> First materials processing experiments in 

> Propulsion systems for world's first Space 

> First commercial product made in space. 

These accomplishments are the essence of 
the Marshall Center's history. Behind the 
scenes of our space launches and missions, 
however, lies a story of challenges faced and 
problems solved. The highlights of that story 
are presented in this illustrated report of our 
first 25 years. 

This book is organized not as a straight 
chronology but as three parallel reviews of 
the Center's major assignments: propulsion 
systems and launch vehicles, space science 
research and technology, and manned space 
systems. Our general goals have been to 
reach space, to know and understand the 
space environment, and to inhabit and utilize 
space for the benefit of mankind. The text of 
each chapter reports on the past achieve- 
ments, present activities, and future plans of 
the Center as an entity; the photographs 
show people at work, making history. 

This three-part treatment of the Center's 
history is a convenience that enables us to 
trace the development of Marshall's major 
roles with thematic continuity. In reality, of 
course, there is considerable interdepend- 
ence and inter-relationship throughout the 
Center. For example, the Apollo Telescope 
Mount and Skylab, discussed here in different 
chapters, were not two separate programs; 
rather, the telescope was an integral part of 
Skylab. Within our matrix organization, all 
projects benefit from the shared technical and 
managerial capabilities of the Center. 

This report also includes a chronology of 
major events, presented as a fold-out chart 
for ready reference. At a glance, the reader 
can see concurrent events in each of the 
Marshall Center's major endeavors - space 
vehicles, space science, manned systems - 
and place them in the context of develop- 
ments within the Center and the community. 

We are aware that the story of Marshall 
Space Flight Center can be told in many 
voices, with different themes. Each employee 
has a unique perspective on the accomplish- 
ments of the past 25 years. This report 
speaks of the Center's achievements and 
challenges in general, none of which would 
have been possible without the specific 
accomplishments of dedicated individuals. 
On this anniversary, we celebrate their suc- 
cesses and encourage all to learn from Mar- 
shall's history as they remember it. We 
consult the past to guide our progress into 
the future. 


Preface i 

Commitment to Excellence V 

A Unique National Resource 1 

Thrust into Space: Propulsion Systems and Launch Vehicles 5 

Saturn 6 

Space Shuttle 20 

Advanced Transportation Systems 30 

A Glimpse of the Future 32 

Research on the New Frontier: Space Science 35 

Small Scientific Payloads 36 

Space Observatories 38 

Spacelab Investigations and Other Flight Experiments 46 

Materials Processing in Space 50 

Research and Technology 52 

A Glimpse of the Future 56 

A Permanent Presence: Manned Space Systems 59 

Lunar Roving Vehicle 60 

Skylab 61 

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project 68 

Spacelab 69 

Space Station 74 

Foundation for the Future: The Marshall Center People 81 

Chronology: 25 Years at Marshall Space Flight Center 86 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2013 





n this 25th anniversary of the founding of Marshall Space Flight Center, we 
whose careers are linked to the space program feel a nostalgia that is both 
communal and individual; the history of NASA and our personal lives are 
so intertwined as to be virtually inseparable. We have changed and 
matured, and so has the Center. We have grown professionally in response 
to the challenges of space, and we have also become a family united by 
shared goals and aspirations. While we reflect on the past, we are eager to 
proceed into the exciting future. 

The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, established by Presidential Executive Order 
to support a vigorous national program for the exploration of space, was officially designated 
on July 1, 1960. During its first quarter century, the Marshall Center has been recognized as 
one of the most capable, most versatile science and engineering institutions in the world. 
Marshall has a well-earned reputation as a developer and manager of large, complex systems 
as diverse as launch vehigles, satellite observatories, and manned work places in space. Mar- 
shall is NASA's leading center for propulsion systems and launch vehicles, yet we have broad- 
ened our base to include many other quite different projects. By virtue of its multidisciplinary 
talents and resources, the Center has been, and continues to be, a major force in the nation's 
space program. 

The history of Marshall Space Flight Center is a chronicle of hard work and dependable 
hardware. Our products - the giant Saturn launch vehicles, Skylab, the Space Shuttle propul- 
sion systems, Spacelab, Space Telescope, the many scientific spacecraft and payloads - are 
tremendous achievements. Our people are true pioneers, visionary leaders who extend the 
limits of technology and boldly advance into the new frontier of space. 

The motivating force of Marshall Space Flight Center is a commitment to excellence, mani- 
fested in the work of its people. One success after another - 2 Mercury-Redstone launches, 
32 Saturn launches including 9 lunar missions, 3 Skylab missions, 3 High Energy Astronomy 
Observatories, some 20 Space Shuttle launches, 3 Spacelab missions, a remarkable new 
Space Telescope to be launched in 1986, and a host of other achievements - testify to the 
highest standards of performance in our day-to-day business. The Marshall Center is a disci- 
plined organization dedicated to the common goal of a successful space program for the 
benefit of mankind. 

Because our people adhere tenaciously to the standard of excellence, despite often severe 
time and budgetary pressures, the history of the past 25 years is a sterling record of success. 
Now we are poised at the threshold of another great endeavor that will challenge us far into 
the future - the establishment of a permanent presence in space in an inhabited Space Sta- 
tion. What we do today and what we are capable of achieving tomorrow depend on our contin- 
ued, unstinting commitment to excellence in thought and deed, in theory and practice. 

We have certain traditions at Marshall: professionalism and quality in all disciplines, effec- 
tive management, teamwork, pioneering scientific research, and advancing technology. This 
heritage continues in our work today, and it must remain vital in our future efforts. Our history 
is not a closed book; it inspires and guides us. 

As I look back to the origins of Marshall Space Flight Center, our history appears in the 
blinding light of rockets and launch vehicles. Looking ahead, I see a future equally bright with 
challenges that will tax our ingenuity and demand our best efforts. As always, we will succeed 
if in our daily work we honor our commitment to the standard of excellence. 

That is the Marshall tradition; may it remain so. 

vC/' A . £CCoe*-*aJ 

W. R. Lucas, Director 

George C. Marshall Space Flight Center 

July 1985 

German rocket experts in Fort Bliss before moving to Huntsville 

abama Space ana Rocket Center Archives photo 

The United States' first satellite, Explorer 1 

Pioneer 4 probe, first U.S. 

satellite to orbit the sun, 

launched in 1959 

In the blockhouse at Cape Canaveral awaiting launch of 
Pioneer 4 (1959) 

t Huntsville we have one of the 
most capable groups of space 
technicians in the country," a 
government official told Con- 
gress in 1959. "I think that it 

is a unique group ... a national resource of 

tremendous importance." 

Alabama Space and Rocket Center Archives photo 

Years before either the National 
Aeronautics and Space Administration 
(NASA) or Marshall Space Flight Center 
(MSFC) was established, a group of scientists 
and engineers known as the von Braun rocket 
team became prominent in America's fledgling 
space program. Dr. Wernher von Braun and 
118 German rocketry experts and their families 
came to the United States in the mid-1 940's. 
Initially employed by the Government at Fort 
Bliss, Texas, the group moved to Huntsville in 
1950. Here the Army's Redstone Arsenal 
offered an excellent site for basic rocket 
research and guided missile development. 

During the 1950's, this team was expanded 
by nation-wide recruitment of scientists and 
engineers, and it became the core of the 
Army's Guided Missile Development Group. 
The group initiated research and development 
of the 75,000 pound thrust Redstone guided 
missile, first launched in 1953, and started the 
larger Jupiter missile program in 1955. The 
next year, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency 
(ABMA), which incorporated this resident 
technical cadre in key positions, was estab- 
lished at Redstone Arsenal. Dr. von Braun 

Explorer 1 ready for launch 
atop Jupiter C rocket (1958) 

became head of the ABMA Development 
Operations Division. 

During this period of rapid change, the 
momentum toward space flight increased. As 
head of various missile development activities 
in Huntsville, Dr. von Braun played an influen- 
tial role in the formulation of national space 
policy. Among the many issues debated by 
advisory committees to the Government was 
the matter of military and civilian uses of 
space. Although affiliated with a military 

"I consider the exploration 
of space and the extension 
of human activities beyond 
the confines of our planet 
as the supreme challenge 
of the age in which we live." 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1957 

Explorer project leaders: 

Dr. Rees, Major Gen. Med a r is, 

Dr. von Braun, 

Dr. Stuhlinger and (behind) 

Mr. Mrazek and 

Dr. Haeussermann 

Alabama Space and Rocket Center Archives photo 


U S Army. Redstone Arsenal photo 

ABMA laboratory 

Fireworks in 


Huntsville to 

celebrate Explorer I 



agency, Dr. von Braun was a strong proponent 
of the scientific exploration of space and the 
development of large launch vehicles for this 

Meanwhile, the von Braun team was busy 
solving the theoretical and practical problems 
of rocketry. Already members of the group 
were studying the feasibility of larger boosters 
with much greater thrust and payload-carrying 
capability for orbital and deep space missions. 
Through dozens of Redstone and Jupiter 
static firings and test flights, they were resolv- 
ing some of the difficulties in rocket design, 
propulsion, and performance. 

Due to their foresight in planning and prep- 
aration, the ABMA group was ready for the 
United States' first launch of a satellite. Hav- 

Huntsville- Madison County Public Library photo 

BW 5*Jfo»foffle m 


ing anticipated the space age, the rocket team 
responded quickly when launch was author- 
ized. In January of 1958, the ABMA lofted 
America's first satellite, Explorer I, into orbit 
aboard the Army's Jupiter C rocket, just three 
months after authorization. During the next 
two years, the ABMA launched six other sci- 
entific satellites, including a Pioneer that 
orbited the sun. 

The initial success with the Jupiter rocket 
spurred the von Braun team and the ABMA 
toward an even more ambitious big booster 
program, originally named the Juno, for 
advanced space missions. In 1959, a separate 
Defense Department organization, the 
Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), 
authorized ABMA to begin a research and 
development program for a vehicle having a 
1.5 million pound thrust capability. This tre- 
mendous advance was to be achieved by 
clustering eight available rocket engines into 
one stage. The major goal of the program was 
a demonstration static firing by the end of 
1959. The Juno program was renamed Saturn 
in 1959, and soon thereafter the project 
received the highest national priority rating. 
Members of the rocket group in Huntsville 
were enthusiastic about the new project; they 
had been nurturing the concept for years, and 
they were eager to proceed. 

In the meantime, NASA was founded in 
1958 by an Act of Congress to support a vigor- 
ous civilian space program. The new space 
agency included elements from various exist- 
ing laboratories and installations, but it did not 
have a strong capability for developing launch 
vehicles and propulsion systems. After exten- 
sive negotiations, the ABMA's Development 
Operations Division headed by Dr. von Braun 
and the Saturn project were transferred from 
the Department of Defense to NASA in 1960. 

Wither Change 
j^P^d Launching 

-9U»iH ere 
Ai <kd Project 

Second Moon 
jfc Scheduled 

nU> MWJ Nigh, 

President Eisenhower and Mrs. George C. 
Marshall at dedication ceremony for NASA's 
Marshall Space Flight Center 

"After thousands of years 
of clinging to our planet, 
man is finally about to 
burst the bonds of terres- 
trial gravity and embark on 
the greatest voyage of his 
entire existence. . . the 
exploration of the space 
around him." 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1958 

This transfer strengthened the agency consid- 
erably and also guaranteed the rocket team's 
active participation in the scientific exploration 
of space. 

On July 1, 1960, the George C. Marshall 
Space Flight Center officially came into being 
as 4,670 civil servants previously associated 
with the Army became NASA personnel, and 
1,840 acres of Arsenal property and facilities 
worth $100 million were transferred to the 
space agency. For several months, the 
Marshall group continued to work at the same 
desks in the same Army buildings. The new 
organization resembled the old, and the conti- 
nuity of personnel and activity was hardly 
affected by the transfer. In addition to the 
Saturn project, Marshall assumed responsibil- 
ity for the Juno II rocket, the 1 .5 million pound 
thrust F-1 single engine, development of the 
Agena B stage of the Atlas and Thor boosters, 
development of the Centaur launch vehicle, 
and development of the Mercury-Redstone 
vehicle for NASA's first manned program, 
Project Mercury. 

Dedicating the new NASA center in Sep- 
tember, President Dwight Eisenhower 
remarked that General George C. Marshall, 
the distinguished soldier and statesman, was 
a builder of peace. The decision to name the 
center in his honor was also a fitting tribute to 
both the agency and the team of rocketry 
pioneers whose origins were in military 
research but who aimed for the peaceful sci- 
entific exploration of space. 

Thus, when Marshall Space Flight Center 
opened for business in July of 1960 it was 
already a thriving enterprise. Its work force 
included many people who had already 
worked together for a decade or longer. Its 
founding director was Dr. Wernher von Braun, 
an advocate of space research and develop- 

ment activities for more than 20 years. Major 
programs were already established and in 
progress, and its organizational philosophy 
was in place. The new center had excellent 
laboratories for rocket propulsion system 
design, development, manufacturing, and test- 
ing. Its technical capabilities were unsur- 
passed, and its morale and team spirit were 

The Center was born in an atmosphere of 
urgency, at a time when the nation's goals in 
space were not yet clearly focused. The space 
environment was unfamiliar territory and there 
were many uncertainties about appropriate 
technology and suitable missions. To those 
who had been working with rockets, the next 
step seemed obvious: bigger, more powerful 
boosters to place communications and 
weather satellites into orbit, to send planetary 
probes into deep space, to carry people and 
their living quarters or workshops into space, 
and to begin studying and using space for the 
benefit of all mankind. 

While public consensus was forming, the 
cadre of rocket experts in Huntsville pro- 
ceeded apace with the task of developing 
awesome new launch vehicles - the massive 
Saturn family. Despite the unparalleled experi- 
ence and expertise that made this group an 
invaluable national resource, the Saturn proj- 
ect challenged all their technical and manage- 
rial abilities. From this beginning arose the 
traditions that still characterize Marshall 
Space Flight Center today: engineering excel- 
lence and the disciplined concentration of 
energy essential for success. ■ 





Breaking new 
ground for the 
nation's space 



n a blaze of light and 
rumbling thunder, a 
space vehicle rises from 
its launch pad. For most 
observers, a lift-oft marks 
a beginning, a take-off, the 
start of an adventure. For 
NASA engineers, however, 
a launch is a climactic 
event, the culmination 
of years of hard work. While others watch 
expectantly, those who have designed or built 
a vehicle wait tensely for the moment of relief 
and jubilation, the spectacular moment of 
proof that their work has been done well. 

Marshall Space Flight Center developed 
the engines and vehicles that boosted our 
nation into space. Transportation systems 
have been a crucial part of the Center's busi- 
ness, from the early Redstone rockets to the 
sophisticated Saturn launch vehicles and on to 
the Space Shuttle and the advanced craft that 
will serve us in the Space Station era. At every 
stage, the development of propulsion systems 
and vehicles for space flight has posed techni- 
cal and managerial challenges. There was no 
precedent for the pioneering work of establish- 
ing safe, reliable transportation service into 
space. The history of this Marshall Center 
achievement is one of problems solved, chal- 
lenges met, and successes recorded. 



"I think we've got a fantastic 
and remarkable capability 
here. We're really not too far 
. . . from going to the stars." 

John Young 
Commander, STS-1, 1981 

/ \ 

o io 

W IK? 



Marshall Space Flight Center came into being 
with a charter to develop a launch vehicle of 
unprecedented size and power. As the pace of 
the space program quickened in the late 
1950s, a bold leap was urgently needed to 
establish American technological pre-emin- 
ence. That advance, of almost inconceivable 
proportions, was the Saturn series - the 
Saturn I, Saturn IB, and Saturn V launch 

The new vehicles would be gigantic com- 
pared to their predecessors, which were them- 
selves barely off the drawing boards and test 
stands. They would have remarkable thrust and 
lift capability. Whereas the 70-foot Redstone 
generated about 75,000 pounds of thrust for 
suborbital flight, the Saturn I was first envi- 
sioned as a 165-foot, 1.5 million pound thrust 

giant capable of attaining Earth orbit. Those 
initial specifications were soon revised upward, 
and the largest member of the family, the tow- 
ering 363-foot Saturn V, ultimately became a 
multi-stage, multi-engine vehicle standing taller 
than the Statue of Liberty. With a first-stage 
thrust of 7.5 million pounds and another 1.2 
million pounds in combined upper-stage thrust, 
the Saturn V was capable of sending man to 
the moon. 

Although the origins of the Saturn concept 
lay in ongoing rocket research within the Army 
Ballistic Missile Agency and other military pro- 
grams, a strong impetus to the Saturn program 
was President John F. Kennedy's 1961 
announcement of the nation's foremost goal in 
space: a manned lunar landing within the dec- 
ade. As early as 1959, NASA was already 
looking toward this goal in its long-range plan- 
ning, but not within the same time frame; a 
lunar landing in the early 1970's was contem- 
plated. Now, before a single American had 
been thrust into orbit, NASA and the nation 
were committed to an extremely ambitious 

"I believe that this nation 
should commit itself to 
achieving the goal, before 
this decade is out, of land- 
ing a man on the Moon 
and returning him safely 
to Earth." 

President John F. Kennedy 
May 25, 1961 

Saturn engines and stages 

rirst Saturn V launch 
(Apollo 4), 
November 9, 1967 

endeavor. The Saturn program, the Marshall 
Center's first major responsibility, crystallized 
about this goal. The new family of extraordi- 
narily large launch vehicles was required for 
the Apollo lunar missions. 

Marshall Space Flight Center was a foun- 
tainhead of activity during the months of early 
Saturn-Apollo planning. NASA had decided to 
use the Army's Redstone ballistic missile and 
the larger Air Force Atlas missile as boosters 
for Project Mercury, which would lay the foun- 
dations of manned space flight in preparation 
for the Apollo missions to the moon. To 
Marshall fell the responsibility of modifying the 
Redstone vehicle for the first manned suborbi- 
tal missions. 

After several unmanned test launches in 
1960 and a flight by the chimpanzee "Ham" in 
early 1961, the Mercury-Redstone systems 
were judged flight-worthy for a manned mis- 
sion. In May of 1961, Marshall's Redstone vehi- 
cle boosted America's first astronaut, Alan B. 
Shepard, on a successful but brief suborbital 
flight. A modified Redstone was used on a 
subsequent Project Mercury flight, and 
Marshall's track record of successful launches 
began to grow convincingly. 

The original Marshall organization included 
a Launch Operations Directorate responsible 
for launching test flights and the Mercury- 
Redstone flights. In 1962, this Marshall launch 
team moved to Cape Canaveral and its leader, 
Dr. Kurt Debus, became the first Director of the 
Launch Operations Center there, later 
renamed as Kennedy Space Center. An 
exceptionally close working relationship 
between the two Centers has continued since 
that time. 

For the next several years, other elements 
of NASA methodically perfected spacecraft 
systems and orbital rendezvous techniques 
through the Mercury and Gemini missions. 
Meanwhile, Marshall surged ahead to prepare 
the launch vehicle for the Apollo lunar 

fScaling Up 

In the interests of time and economy, the 
developers of the Saturn vehicles relied heav- 
ily on contemporary rocket design and propul- 
sion technology. Nevertheless, the Saturn 
represented a dramatic departure from early 
single-engine, single-stage rockets. To achieve 
the thrust necessary for manned lunar mis- 
sions, it was essential to develop a multistage 
vehicle with clusters of engines and to use 
• higher performance propellants and propulsion 
systems. Advanced missions and heavy pay- 
loads meant more engines, bigger launch vehi- 
cles, and higher-energy fuels. 

Scaling up to the massive Saturn dimen- 
sions was a major challenge. Even though pro- 
totypes of some components existed, they 
were not as large as the new vehicle required. 
In addition to basic advances in rocket technol- 
ogy, related developments in materials, analyti- 
cal techniques, tooling, fabrication techniques, 
and test facilities were necessary. In fact, rapid 
advances in the state of the art were neces- 
sary in almost every technical area. 

How did the Marshall Center turn the 
Saturn concept into reality? What technical 
challenges did Marshall people meet, and 
what did they contribute to the state of the art 
in critical engineering disciplines? These ques- 
tions have been explored in detail in other doc- 
uments; a summary here will distill the 
essence of the Marshall Center's achievement. 

To manage the tasks of developing, pro- 
ducing, and integrating the large multistage 
vehicles, Marshall's initial organization 
included a Saturn Systems Office with respon- 
sibility for managing all aspects of the Saturn 
program. As the program evolved and 
matured, the Systems Office was subdivided 
into three project offices for Saturn l/IB, 
Saturn V, and engines. The project offices in 
turn were subdivided into offices for each 
vehicle stage or engine. By 1963, a large 
amount of Saturn work was being performed 
under contracts, and the Saturn management 
offices were organized under the aegis of a 
new Industrial Operations Directorate. 

Saturn I test firing at Marshall 

Technical expertise for Saturn was pro- 
vided by the Center's nine engineering labora- 
tories: Aero-Astrodynamics, Astrionics, 
Computation. Manufacturing. Propulsion and 
Vehicles. Quality and Reliability Assurance, 
Test, Launch Vehicle Operations, and 
Research Projects. These specialized disci- 
pline laboratories, which had their origins in 
the ABMA organization, constituted most of 
the Research and Development Operations 
Directorate. Their importance to the Saturn 
program was incalculable; the laboratories 
continually pushed the limits of the state of 
the art in all fields to develop the designs, 
materials, and technology that made Saturn 
possible. A major factor in the success of the 
program was the creative technical excellence 
of the Marshall Center laboratories. 

The Saturn family of boosters included 
three vehicles: the Saturn I and IB for develop- 
ment purposes and early Apollo flights, and 
the Saturn V for the actual lunar missions. 
Even before the Saturn project was officially 
NASA's responsibility, the von Braun group 
and other space program officials vigorously 
debated the question of configuration. It was a 
foregone conclusion that the giant boosters 

would need several stages and clusters of 
engines, but dozens of arrangements were 
possible. Deciding upon the basic architecture 
of each Saturn vehicle was a dilemma 
resolved by careful deliberation. How many 
stages, of what height and diameter, how 
many engines per stage, what type and 
arrangement of engines would stack up to 
make the best booster? The Saturns were 

"Few of man's technologi- 
cal endeavors compare in 
scope of significance to 
the development of the 
Saturn family of launch 
vehicles. . . . Saturn was an 
engineering masterpiece." 

Dr. W.R. Lucas 







Third Stage 
1 J-2 Engine 

Second Stas 


5 J-2 Engine 


9l : 




"- — 

First Stage 


5 F-1 Engine 

Test firing of Saturn IC stage at MSFC 

hybrid vehicles combining newly designed 
clustered-engine stages and new engine 

Marshall Space Flight Center personnel 
were deeply involved in the vehicle concept 
work. The decision was made in early planning 
studies to use a first-stage cluster of eight 
modified Jupiter engines burning a kerosene 
distillate fuel called RP-1 with liquid oxygen. 
The choice of upper-stage engines and config- 
urations, however, was less clear. After initial 
consideration of various conventional missile 
stages, NASA opted in 1959 to use new liquid 
hydrogen engines in the second and third 
stages. Saturn configurations stayed in flux as 
various concepts for stages and engines were 
evaluated and parallel development efforts 
proceeded. By 1962, the broad configuration 
issue was settled, though many interfacing 
details remained to be worked out. 

Marshall Space Flight Center carried out 
development, testing, and production of the 
Saturn I first stage in-house until Chrysler Cor- 
poration became the prime contractor in late 
1961. The in-house effort established the basic 
design for clustered engines and clustered 
propellant tanks, the pumping scheme for a 
steady and balanced propellant flow from 
tanks to engines, the structural skeleton and 
skin for the unusually large stage, and the 
guidance and control mechanisms for steering 
the vehicle during powered flight. 

The flawless first launch in October of 1961 
validated the Saturn vehicle concept nurtured 
at Marshall. In ten successful Saturn I 
launches between October 1961 and July 
1965, engine performance and vehicle reliabil- 
ity were convincingly demonstrated. Eight of 
the ten Saturn I first stage boosters were built 
at Marshall, the others by Chrysler Corporation 
Space Division. Five second stages (two for 
testing and three for flight, all unpowered 
"dummies") were built at Marshall before 
Douglas Aircraft Company began to supply 
them under contract. In addition, five Saturn V 
first stages (three for ground tests and two for 
flight) were fabricated in-house at Marshall. 
After this initial production, all stages of the 
three Saturn vehicles were produced by con- 
tractors (Douglas, North American, IBM, 
Rocketdyne, Pratt and Whitney, and Boeing) 
under Marshall Center management. 

Launch vehicle configuration was contin- 
gent upon powerful rocket engines, the prereq- 
uisite for space flight. Much of the Marshall 
Center's early effort was directed toward 
advanced engine technology and higher- 
energy propellants. Fuel-efficiency assess- 
ments pointed to liquefied gases as the most 

Working overtime to keep Saturn on schedule 

J-2 engine static firing 

Saturn launch vehicle engines 


Early Saturn I launch, with 
"dummy" second stage and 

promising new propellants for advanced mis- 
sions, and to liquid hydrogen in particular, 
because conventional propellants could not 
supply the necessary thrust and high perform- 
ance for heavy-payload lunar missions requir- 
ing escape velocities. 

When liquid hydrogen was selected for 
Saturn's upper stages, its use as an engine 
fuel was experimental. In addition to proving its 
performance, engineers faced a host of logisti- 
cal problems associated with storing, pumping, 
and transporting the fuel, which is highly 
explosive and must be maintained at 
extremely low (cryogenic) temperatures, more 
than 400°F below zero. Advances in insulation 
materials and in the design of large cryogenic 
storage tanks and pumping systems were 
required by the selection of liquid hydrogen as 
a propellant for Saturn upper stages. 

As the Saturn program evolved, the 
Marshall Center worked closely with contrac- 
tors to improve or develop engines for each 
vehicle stage. Two first-stage engines (the H-1 
and F-1) and two high-energy upper stage 
engines (the RL-10 and J-2) were ushered 
through research and development, testing, 
production, and launch. The most visible (and 


audible) evidence of Marshall's role was the 
static firing test activity in Huntsville. Local citi- 
zens had frequent thunderous reminders that 
the space program was in progress just next 

The first-stage engines used a conven- 
tional kerosene-liquid oxygen propellant and 
existing engine concepts. The main engineer- 
ing challenges were to cluster and enlarge the 
engines for much higher thrust, which intro- 
duced problems that required innovative solu- 
tions. For example, some of the engines were 
gimballed for directional control of the vehicle 
powered by the combined thrust of eight 
engines. New ducting and venting techniques 
were used to deliver propellants to the multiple 
engines. Manufacturing problems resulted in 
new materials and manufacturing processes. 
Turbopumps and thrust chambers were 
improved for uniform propellant flow and com- 
bustion under very severe temperatures and 
pressures. Special instrumentation was devel- 
oped to evaluate engine performance under 
dynamic conditions. While the first-stage 
engines had a heritage of proven technology, 
scaling up resulted in many advances. 

A prototype uprated H-1 engine developed 
by Rocketdyne was first tested in 1958; an 
eight-engine cluster was tested and flight rated 
at Marshall in 1960, during the Center's first 
year. Models of this workhorse ranged in thrust 
from 165,000 to 205,000 pounds per engine, 
for a total thrust of more than a million pounds 
in a Saturn I or IB first-stage cluster. The F-1 
engine, developed to meet the greater thrust 
demands for Saturn V launches, yielded an 
awesome 7.5 million pounds of thrust in a five- 
engine first-stage cluster. Also developed by 
Rocketdyne, this engine was first tested in 1961, 
then tested in a cluster at Marshall in 1963, and 
first flown in 1967. Both first-stage engines 
proved highly reliable. 

While suitable engines for Saturn first 
stages were developed by enlarging and modi- 
fying existing designs, there were no available 
liquid hydrogen propulsion systems. Without 
proven technology, NASA undertook the devel- 
opment of entirely new engines for Saturn 
upper stages. Management responsibility for 
this pioneering engine work was assigned to 
Marshall Space Flight Center at its founding. 
The new engines represented major techno- 
logical breakthroughs in propulsion system 
design and performance. 

The initial upper stage engines used in 
Saturn I vehicles were derived from the RL-10 
hydrogen/oxygen engine under consideration 
in the late 1950's by the Air Force. When built 
into an upper stage, this engine would enable 

Atlas missiles to launch heavier payloads, 
such as communications satellites. NASA 
inherited responsibility for the RL-10 engine 
under development by Pratt & Whitney, and by 
1959 it was destined for use in the Saturn IB 
upper stage. Engine testing occurred at 
Marshall Space Flight Center and other sites, 
and by 1961 the high-performance RL-10 liquid 
hydrogen engine was flight rated. The selected 
configuration for the Saturn I second stage 
was a cluster of six engines, each having 
15,000 pounds of thrust; its first flight occurred 
in 1964. 

Concurrently with RL-10 engine develop- 
ment, NASA was planning ahead to liquid 
hydrogen engines of even greater thrust, 
200,000 pounds each, to be used singly or in 
clusters. Beginning in 1960, development of 
the J-2 engine was undertaken by Rocketdyne 
under Marshall Center management. These 
huge engines became the powerhouse for 
Saturn IB and Saturn V upper stages. A single 
J-2 engine was used in the Saturn IB second 
stage and Saturn V third stage; five of these 
engines were clustered in the Saturn V second 
stage for a million pounds of thrust. Following 
successful tests in 1962, the engine entered 
production in 1963 and was first flown in 1965. 

As manager of the engine development 
projects, the Marshall Center was immersed in 
all the design issues and technical problems 
facing its contractors. Together, the govern- 
ment-industry team faced the challenges of 
scaling up existing concepts and simultane- 
ously working out new technology. The Center 
relied on its in-house laboratory expertise in 
propulsion systems, metallurgical and mate- 
rials research, fluid dynamics, structures, 
dynamics, and other disciplines for the neces- 
sary engineering advances. Notable achieve- 
ments included the application of lightweight, 
durable materials capable of withstanding 
extreme temperatures and stress, new heat 

Altogether the Saturn V 
engines produced as 
much power as 85 Hoover 

F-1 engine static firing test at Marshall 

J-2 engine assembly line at 
Rocketdyne facility in 
Canoga Park, California 



treatment for alloys, innovations in turbomachi- 
nery design for improved efficiency, and myr- 
iad other improvements in component designs 
and fabrication techniques to meet the unique 
operational demands of the Saturn vehicles. 
Throughout the 1960's, the Center also main- 
tained engine testing programs in Huntsville 
concurrent with testing at contractor sites. 

At its founding, Marshall had inherited the 
Army's Jupiter and Redstone test stands, but 
much larger facilities were needed for Saturn V 
testing and for manufacture of the giant 
stages. Besides expanding its own facilities, 
Marshall acquired three additional installations 
elsewhere in the early 1960's. In a related 
expansion, Marshall acquired or built barges 
and docks to develop a suitable system for 
transporting the huge Saturn elements to the 
launch site. All of these facilities operated 
under the jurisdiction of Marshall Space Flight 
Center. The complexity of this construction and 
logistics effort was a major challenge that 
required a substantial investment. 

From 1960 to 1964, existing test stands at 
Marshall were remodeled and a sizable new 
test area was developed. The new towers 
erected for propulsion and structural dynamic 

Transport of Saturn S-IB 

stage from dock to MSFC 

test stand 


Temporary quarters in the 
Huntsville Industrial Center 
as MSFC grew 

tests were among the tallest buildings in the 
state. They also made up a comprehensive 
test complex for static firings of extremely pow- 
erful engines, storage and pumping of cry- 
ogenic fuels, and structural evaluation of 
inordinately large objects. The Marshall test 
areas were unique within the nation and the 
free world, and they remain so today because 
they were constructed with foresight to meet 
future as well as original needs. The Center 
also expanded its local production facilities for 
in-house fabrication of the early Saturn stages. 

The Michoud Assembly Facility in New 
Orleans, Louisiana, a component facility of the 
Marshall Space Flight Center, became the 
manufacturing and assembly site for the 
Saturn IB and Saturn V first stages. Jointly 
occupied by the two prime contractors, Chrys- 
ler and Boeing, the plant had over 3 million 
square feet of production and office space, 
with 43 acres under one roof. The facility, 
located on the Gulf intracoastal waterway, was 
well situated for barge transport of the stages 
to test and launch sites. 

Nearby in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, the 
Marshall Center constructed a massive new 
engine test complex. Three huge test stands 
surrounded by laboratories, fuel storage tanks, 
and support facilities rose from the wilderness. 
Saturn stages were test fired and qualified 
here by a contractor workforce under Marshall 
management. Originally a part of the Marshall 
Center, the Mississippi Test Facility later 
became an independent NASA installation. 

A government-owned computer facility in 
Slidell, Louisiana was enlisted to support the 
Michoud plant and Mississippi test site. A com- 
ponent installation of the Marshall Center, the 
Slidell Computer Complex provided critical 
data processing services for Saturn test, 
checkout, simulation, and engineering 

In parallel with the development of engines 
and stages, Marshall Space Flight Center was 
engaged in developing the Saturn vehicle's 
instrument unit for guidance, navigation, and 
control. This "brain" controlled all the ignition 
sequences, stage separations, guidance and 
control, and telemetry functions to keep the 
vehicle operating properly and on course. 
Begun as an in-house project, which evolved 
through several versions, the sophisticated unit 
eventually was contracted to IBM for final 
design and manufacture. Its continuing refine- 
ment was marked by notable advances in 
computer memory, logic, and instrument 
design using new alloys and miniaturization 
techniques that found a ready commercial 
market in a variety of consumer products. 

fBuilding Confidence 

The key word for the Saturn development 
effort was performance. Given a highly visible 
and costly space program, strong pressure to 
meet goals on schedule, and the importance 
of crew safety, everything possible was done 
to ensure the reliable performance of every 
Saturn element. As program manager, 
Marshall Space Flight Center led the way in 
establishing both technical and managerial 
practices that built confidence in the Saturn 
vehicles. The result was 32 consecutive suc- 
cessful Saturn launches, the complete pro- 
gram including 9 lunar missions. A fleet of 
extraordinarily reliable vehicles boosted the 
space program to success. 

The confidence factor derived from con- 
servative design, extensive testing, and strin- 
gent quality control, all based on meticulous 
attention to detail. Simplicity, building blocks, 
and tests were the key tenets of this 

At virtually every point, Marshall engineers 
favored design simplicity. Undue complexity 
introduced greater risks that could jeopardize 
the schedule or the entire program. As they 
scaled up existing components and systems, 
engineers kept a keen eye on ways to stream- 
line the designs. While they developed designs 
for new items, they also looked for ways to 

Construction of towering new test stands at 
Marshall, 1960-1964 



make things work without burdensome com- 
plexities. The novel J-2 engine design admira- 
bly illustrated this principle; many components 
in this propulsion system served more than 
one purpose. 

Marshall engineers and managers favored 
a building block approach to the ambitious 
Saturn program. To ensure steady progress 
toward a launch vehicle that had no precedent, 
they organized the development effort in 
phases to prove the technology for each phase 
in a relentless step-by-step fashion. Each 
major element - an engine or an entire stage, 
for example - was a building block that was 
added to the configuration in due course. Sys- 
tems were gradually built up as components 
were tested and proved; likewise, the vehicle 
gradually evolved as one element after 
another was added and exercised. 

The Saturn I launch series illustrated this 
building block approach to development by 
successive additions: initially only the first 
stage was live, with a dummy upper stage; 
after more checkout flights, a live upper stage 
was added; then a functional payload was 
added. The Saturn I itself was a building block 

for the IB vehicle, which in turn was a building 
block for the Saturn V. This methodical devel- 
opment scheme proved so reliable that the 
Saturn I was rated operational three flights 
ahead of schedule, and the first Saturn V flight 
was an "all-up" mission with all stages live. 
The decision for an all-up first launch was a 
bold break from precedent, made after much 
deliberation; in balance against the inherent 
risk of initial failures was the confidence factor 
so painstakingly nurtured at Marshall. 

Marshall also was firmly committed to rig- 
orous testing. To avoid surprises in flight, engi- 
neers subjected Saturn components to every 
conceivable stress and strain anticipated dur- 
ing a mission. Extremes of temperatures, 
pressure, vacuum, and vibration even greater 
than those predicted for launch and space 
flight were devised in laboratories and test 
stands. New facilities were built and existing 
test facilities at both the Center and at contrac- 
tor locations were scaled up to accommodate 
the massive Saturn elements. Saturn test and 
checkout activities spawned remarkable 
advances in electronic simulators and auto- 
mated test equipment. This apparatus could 

Saturn I build-up at MSFC 

Installation of engines 

Checkout of the completed booster 

Assembly of the Instrument 

Unit, Saturn's complex 

"brain" for guidance, 

navigation and control 


create a high-fidelity simulation of launch and 
flight or could take the pulse of hundreds of 
different parts to provide engineers with 
detailed performance data. In addition to test 
and checkout data, hundreds of measure- 
ments of actual flight performance were col- 
lected via telemetry. 

The emphasis on performance and reliabil- 
ity penetrated all levels of the Saturn program 
from top-tier management to production line 7 
workers. The strategy of technical competence 
- of doing things right - was evident every- 
where. Dr. von Braun, for example, expressed 
a "dirty hands" philosophy, encouraging 
Center personnel to keep themselves steeped 
in technical matters. This would make them 
better engineers and better managers of con- 
tract work. One of the Saturn program's best 
insurance policies was the distinctive compe- 
tence resident in Marshall's laboratories and 

Although all Saturn launches were suc- 
cessful, there were occasional problems and 
moments of anxiety. A particular cause of con- 
cern on the first Saturn V flights was the "Pogo 
effect," vertical vibrations that occurred during 
powered flight. Lasting only a few seconds, 
these "bounces" increased stress on the vehi- 
cle. A Pogo task force did the necessary 
detective work to understand the Pogo phe- 
nomenon and implement corrective measures. 
The vibrations were successfully suppressed 
in time for the first manned Saturn V flight. 

fWorking as a Team 

Marshall Space Flight Center faced a manage- 
ment challenge beyond the scope of any pre- 
vious technological endeavor. As many as 
20,000 contractor companies across the 
nation were involved in producing the millions 
of parts that made up each Saturn launch vehi- 
cle. Furthermore, the engines and stages for 
the three different vehicles were evolving rap- 
idly and in parallel, which complicated plan- 
ning and coordination. To stay abreast of the 
status of all program activities and to foster 
reliability everywhere, the Center used a num- 
ber of new management, systems integration, 
and program control methods both in-house 
and in the contractors' territory. 

Teamwork characterized Marshall's rela- 
tionships with its contractors. As the Saturn 
program evolved in scope, the development 
and production requirements exceeded the 
Center's capacity to do all work in-house. 
Therefore, the Center set about building a 
strong government-industry-university team 
with joint participation in working groups and 
extensive Marshall involvement in contractor 

activities. In this tripartite endeavor, the aca- 
demic community contributed substantially to 
study and design activities, and the industrial 
community played major roles in development 
and manufacturing. This mutually beneficial 
cooperation resulted in the successful Saturn 

The purpose of the teamwork philosophy 
was to ensure success by frequent and candid 
interactions between the government customer 
and the industrial supplier. This was accom- 
plished by formal and informal meetings, by 
periodic progress reviews, and in most cases 
by a resident management office at the prime 
contractor sites staffed by Marshall personnel. 
Such close coordination and monitoring 
ensured that problems were recognized and 
resolved early, with minimal impact on costs or 

1. Marshall Space Flight Center 
Huntsville, Alabama 
Vehicle Management 


Systems Engineering 

General Electric 

Ground Support Equipment 

Instrument Units 

2. Boeing 

Kent, Washington 
Lunar Roving Vehicle 

3. SACTO Test Facility 
Douglas Aircraft 
Sacramento, California 
S-IVB Test Operations 

4. McDonnell Douglas 
Huntington Beach, California 

North American Rockwell 
Seal Beach, California 

North American Rockwell 
Canoga Park, California 
H-1, J-2, F-1 engines 

5. Manned Spacecraft Center 
Houston, Texas 
Spacecraft, Mission Control 

6. Michoud Assembly Facility 
New Orleans, Louisiana 


Saturn IB 

7. Mississippi Test Facility 
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 
S-IC & S-ll Test Operations 

8. Kennedy Space Center 
Launch Operations 

9. NASA Headquarters 
Washington, D.C. 

10. Bendix 

Teterboro, New Jersey 
Inertial Guidance Platform 




A special application of team effort was the 
"Tiger Team.'' Technical performance has 
always been a critical and untouchable con- 
stant at Marshall. Therefore, when a difficult 
technical problem occurred, the Center identi- 
fied a group of experts from the relevant labo- 
ratory disciplines to examine and penetrate the 
problem on-site. After thorough study to under- 
stand the intricacies of the problem and sys- 
tematically evaluate alternatives, the team 
continued its focused effort until a workable, 
effective, and reliable solution was achieved 
and implemented. The Tiger Team concept 
that originated with the Saturn program subse- 
quently remained a valuable means of resolv- 
ing technical problems with dispatch. 

The evolutionary nature of Saturn develop- 
ment activities created a need for careful con- 
figuration control. Marshall established 
stringent new guidelines for documenting all 
design specifications, design changes, engi- 
neering discrepancies, and related matters 
that could affect the integrity of any Saturn ele- 
ments or their interface characteristics. For a 
reliable launch vehicle, everything had to mate 
exactly. There could be no surprises on the 
launch pad. 

To further motivate the contractors, 
Marshall began to offer incentive fee and 
award fee contracts. These incentives encour- 
aged the best possible performance to meet 
hardware deliveries on schedule. Incentives at 
the individual worker's level were offered by 
Manned Flight Awareness programs within the 
agency and at contractor plants to remind 
employees of the importance of their work. The 
message was clear: No one could afford to 
make mistakes. 

In-house, Marshall developed several very 
effective teamwork techniques that promoted 
accountability - keeping track of who was 
responsible for what - and enabled managers 
to make well-informed decisions. From the out- 
set, Marshall had a democratic propensity for 
convening committees, working groups, and 
panels to resolve problems or advise policy. An 
important device for fostering such teamwork 
was the Saturn Program Control Center, a 
briefing room outfitted with charts, projection 
screens, closed-circuit audio and television, 
and other aids for communication and informa- 
tion display. A hub of activity for several years, 
this was the place where managers met to 
monitor progress and keep the program's 
course on target. 

fSaturn Legacies 

As the Marshall Center's first major assign- 
ment, and a spectacularly successful one, the 
Saturn program left its imprint on the institution 
and its surroundings. During that time, the 
Center expanded into its own new buildings 
and, in 1965-1966, reached its peak work force 
of 7,327 employees and budget of almost $1.7 
billion. The rapid physical expansion of the 
Center was accomplished by an enormous 
effort to plan, establish, and manage the new 
facilities. Similarly, the growing work force and 
increasing complexity of technical activities 
resulted in a sustaining administrative services 
and support organization. 

As NASA began to procure more technical 
services, a large support community of aero- 
space contractors and high-tech industry grew 
in Research Park and stimulated the local 
economy. During the Saturn era, the popula- 
tion of Huntsville increased 8-fold from 16,000 
in 1950 to 136,000 in 1970. The face of the city 
changed as new roads, residential areas, civic 
facilities, a university, and the Alabama Space 
and Rocket Center opened. That close ties 
bound the institution and the community was 
perhaps most evident in the spontaneous pub- 
lic celebrations of the first American satellite 
launch and the successful landing on the 
moon; Wernher von Braun, the man who had 
been so influential in making Marshall and 
Huntsville the "Home of Saturn," was carried 
along the streets in triumph, like the coach of a 
winning team. 

For a decade, Marshall's human and physi- 
cal resources were largely devoted to Saturn 
work. The institution survived its growing 
pains, and the practices that proved effective 
became habitual. A changing organization 
chart reflected the Center's evolution toward 
more diverse and complex responsibilities. 
Many of the Center's lasting strengths are 
Saturn legacies: its multidisciplinary technical 
competence, its flair for large-scale systems 
engineering and systems management, its 
partnership with industry and universities, its 
perfectionism expressed in reliable products, 
and its dedicated work force committed to 

The Saturn program did not quite end with 
the last Apollo mission in 1972. Saturn vehicles 
were used to launch four Skylab missions in 
1973 and the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975. 
These grand finales launched two new con- 
cepts in America's space program: a long-term 
presence in space for scientific research, and 
international cooperation in manned space- 
flight. On those notes, the Saturn era closed. 

During the Saturn-Apollo era, much of 
Marshall's attention and energy had been 

Celebration of the lunar landin 
downtown Huntsville, July 1961 

At the Marshall Center 
family picnic a few days 
after the lunar landing 



Huntsvtlle-Madtson County Public Library photo 

Elation in the launch control center after 
Apollo II lift-off 

-.entration in the firing room 
Saturn launch 

President Kennedy greeting 
employees during 1962 visit 
to Marshall 


focused on one goal, the development of pro- 
pulsion systems and launch vehicles for the 
lunar landing program. As the Apollo program 
waned, the Center made a deliberate and pru- 
dent decision to become more diversified. The 
key event in Marshall's transition from a single 
project to a multi-project Center was the crea- 
tion of the Program Development directorate in 
1969, under the leadership of today's Center 
Director, Dr. W. R. Lucas. 

At the nucleus of the new directorate were 
future planners drawn from the laboratories 
and now charged with responsibility for coordi- 
nated long-range planning to conceive new 
programs for the agency and the Center. This 
group formed task forces to focus on promis- 
ing new programs and conducted advanced 
studies, feasibility studies, preliminary design 
and program definition. The Program Develop- 
ment directorate rapidly became an effective 
advocate of Marshall Center capabilities and a 
"think tank" for original project concepts. 
Through its efforts, the Center participated in 
early Space Shuttle concept work that evolved 
into major assignments for the Shuttle propul- 
sion systems. This group also did the fore- 
thought and planning that later culminated in 
major new space science programs, including 
the High Energy Astronomy Observatories, 
Spacelab, and Space Telescope. 

The tenure of Dr. Wernher von Braun as 
Director of the Marshall Center ended in 1970 
when he assumed a new position at NASA 
Headquarters. His long-time associate, Dr, 
Eberhard Rees, became Director and, until his 
retirement in 1973, ushered Marshall through a 
difficult period of reduced funding and man- 
power. During his term, emphasis at the 
Center shifted from the Saturn program to 
Skylab and initial planning for the Space 
Shuttle. His successor, Dr. Rocco A. Petrone, 
then presided over the dramatic series of 
Skylab missions in America's first space sta- 
tion. Since 1974 when Dr. William R. Lucas 
became Director, the Center has assumed 
major new responsibilities for the Space 
Shuttle and other projects. 

As the Center looked ahead to the Space 
Shuttle, it was fully confident that the experi- 
ence gained in the Saturn program would be 
well applied to its next assignments. With 
some changes to meet the technical and man- 
agerial challenges of developing new propul- 
sion systems for a new launch vehicle, 
Marshall Space Flight Center had its blueprint 
for success. 


Dedication of the original Redstone Test 
Stand at MSFC as a historic site 

Huntsvllle Times photo 

Tranquility Base here. 
The Eagle has landed." 

Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969 



fSpace Shuttle 

Despite the feverish pace of Saturn develop- 
ment and test activities, NASA was already 
planning a new launch vehicle for the next 
generation. Impressive and powerful though 
they were, the Saturns had one disadvantage: 
they were expendable. Used only once, they 
were expensive to manufacture, stock in inven- 
tory, and use, and the cost per pound of pay- 
load delivered into orbit was high. When the 
agency began looking ahead to a manned 
space station as the next step beyond lunar 
exploration, alternatives to expendable rockets 
were considered. The concept of a reusable 
Space Shuttle was particularly appealing as an 
economical vehicle to ferry people and sup- 

plies to and from orbit. With its expertise in 
large launch vehicles and propulsion systems, 
it was only natural that Marshall Space Flight 
Center should play a major role in the Space 
Shuttle program. 

By 1970, NASA initiated Space Shuttle 
development activity. At first, Marshall was 
heavily involved in the program definition 
phase leading to the current Shuttle configura- 
tion. When the final concept was selected, the 
Center became responsible for the develop- 
ment of the advanced propulsion systems. Of 
the principal Shuttle elements - the Orbiter, 
Main Engines, External Tank, and Solid 
Rocket Boosters - all but the Orbiter were 
developed under Marshall Center 

Much of the Shuttle effort at Marshall was 
performed by the same personnel and in the 
same facilities that had served the Saturn pro- 
gram so well. As Saturn activity subsided, 
these resources were mustered for the Space 
Shuttle effort. Necessary administrative and 
physical changes occurred to accommodate 
the Shuttle program, but in general the Center 
continued its proven practices in the develop- 
ment of large propulsion systems. Marshall 
Space Flight Center was well prepared to meet 
the challenge of developing a new, improved 
thrust into space. 

"You know when you ride 
a launch vehicle, the 
future standard launch 
vehicle of the United 
States of America, if it 
doesn't work right, if all 
those engines don't work 
right, you don't get very 
far down range. The Space 
Shuttle worked perfectly. It 
was a beautiful thing." 

John Young 
Commander, STS-1, 1981 

Readying the Orbiter Enterprise 
for dynamic tests at Marshall 


fDesign Solutions 

The Shuttle posed a number of technical chal- 
lenges to Marshall engineers. Serving as both 
a passenger and cargo vehicle, the Orbiter 
required highly efficient propulsion systems. 
How could that capability best be achieved? 
By integral engines? By external boosters? By 
a combination of both? How could enough fuel 
be provided for lift-off without burdening the 
Orbiter with empty tanks in flight? How could 
fuel efficiency be improved to get the most 
energy from every gallon? 

For Saturn vehicles, the answer to these 
questions was expendable booster stages that 
provided thrust and then were discarded. The 
Shuttle, however, had to meet a new require- 
ment - reusability - and that introduced a host 
of new questions. What sort of rocket engine 
could withstand repeated use? How much of 
the propulsion system could be recycled and 
reused on successive flights? What materials 
could survive the rigors of repeated launches 
and reentries? 

For each of the propulsion elements, the 
Marshall Center developed unique solutions. 
The end product was a totally new launch 
vehicle; its track record to date is just as 
impressive as that of the Saturns. 

The Space Shuttle Main Engines are the 
most advanced cryogenic liquid-fueled rocket 
engines ever built. From the outset, it was 

External Tank 





Solid Rocket Boosters 


Space Shuttle Main Engines 


recognized that the Main Engines required the 
greatest technological advances of any ele- 
ment in the Shuttle program. The three high- 
pressure engines clustered in the tail of the 
Orbiter each provide almost a half million 
pounds of thrust, for a total thrust equal to that 
of the eight-engine Saturn I first stage. Unlike 
Saturn engines, the Shuttle Main Engines can 
be throttled over a range from 65% to 109% of 
their rated power. Thus, the engine thrust can 
be adjusted to meet different mission needs. 
The design goal for each engine is multiple 
starts and a total firing lifetime of 7 1 /2 hours, as 
compared to the Saturn J-2 engine's lifetime 
of about 8 minutes. The engines are gimballed 
so they can be used to steer the Shuttle as 
well as boost it into orbit. 

To get very high performance from an 
engine compact enough that it would not 
encumber the Orbiter or diminish its desired 
payload capability, Marshall worked closely 
with its prime contractor, the Rocketdyne Divi- 
sion of Rockwell International. The greatest 
problem was to develop the combustion 
devices and complex turbomachinery - the 
pumps, turbines, seals, and bearings - that 
could contain and deliver propellants to the 
engines at pressures several times greater 
than in the Saturn engines. The Shuttle engine 
components must endure more severe internal 
environments than any rocket engine ever 
built. Working out the details of this new high- 
pressure system was difficult and time-con- 
suming, but the resultant engines represent a 

Space Shuttle Main Engine 
- the most advanced 
liquid-fueled rocket engine 
ever built. 

Roll-out of a new External Tank at the 
Michoud Assembly Facility in Louisiana 

significant advance in the state of the art. 

The Shuttle Main Engine is the first propul- 
sion system with a computer mounted directly 
on the engine to control its operation. This dig- 
ital computer accepts commands from the 
Orbiter for start preparation, engine start, 
thrust level changes, and shutdown. The con- 
troller also monitors engine operation and can 
automatically make corrective adjustments or 
shut down the engine safely. Advances in elec- 
tronic circuitry were required for the addition of 
this unit to a rocket engine. Because it oper- 
ates in a severe environment, special attention 
was paid to the design and packaging of the 
electronics during an extensive design verifica- 
tion program. 

Improved fuel efficiency was achieved by 
an ingenious staged combustion cycle never 
before used in rocket engines. In this two- 
stage process, exhaust gases are recycled for 
greater combustion efficiency; part of the fuel 
is combusted in preburners to drive the tur- 
bines, after which the exhaust gases are chan- 
neled into the main combustion chamber for 
full combustion at higher temperatures with the 
balance of the propellants. The rapid mixing of 
propellants under high pressure is so complete 
that a 99% combustion efficiency is attained. 

Even though they are extremely efficient, 
the three Main Engines consume a tremen- 
dous quantity of propellant, and the tank that 
feeds them is much larger than the Orbiter 
itself. Marshall also was responsible for devel- 
oping the External Tank, a massive container 

Test firing of single Space 
Shuttle Main Engine at 
National Space Technology 
Laboratories in Mississippi 

almost as tall as the Center's main office 
building. The External Tank actually contains 
two tanks, one for liquid hydrogen and one for 
liquid oxygen, and a plumbing system that 
supplies propellants to the Main Engines of 
the Orbiter. 

The External Tank presented a variety of 
technical problems, both as a fuel tank and as 
the structural backbone of the entire Shuttle 
assembly. Standing 154 feet tall with a 27-foot 
diameter, the External Tank is a towering struc- 
ture; fully loaded, it contains more than a half 
million gallons of propellant and weighs more 
than one and a half million pounds. Marshall 
personnel worked closely with the prime con- 
tractor, the Martin Marietta Corporation, to 
devise appropriate design solutions for its unu- 
sual requirements. 

The Center's prior experience on the 
Saturn V second stage was directly applicable 
to the cryogenic propellant design require- 
ments of the External Tank. To maintain the 
extremely low temperature necessary for the 
liquid hydrogen, the exterior skin of the tank 
was covered with about an inch of epoxy 
spray-on foam insulation. This thermal wall 
reduces heat into the tank and also reduces 
frost and ice formation on the tank after propel- 
lants are loaded. The tank is further protected 
in critical areas from the severe aerodynamic 
heating during flight by a localized ablative 
undercoat that dissipates heat as it chars 

Structurally, the External Tank is attached 

jMW-p ^JS^NgsJ, 

to the Orbiter and the Solid Rocket Boosters. 
The load-bearing function, both on the launch 
pad and during liftoff and ascent, was a major 
design driver. Engineers devised several solu- 
tions to make the tank as strong and as light- 
weight as possible. The aluminum alloy 
structure was designed to handle complex 
loads, and the problem of propellant sloshing 
in the tanks was solved with baffles to avoid 
instabilities that could affect the Shuttle's flight. 

Another important design consideration 
was the fact that the External Tank is not reus- 
able. Therefore, its design must be simple and 
its cost minimal. Solutions to these require- 
ments included locating the fluid controls and 
valves in the Orbiter and drawing power for the 
electronics and instrumentation from the 
Orbiter. With these economies, expendable 
hardware has been minimized. 

The External Tank is manufactured at the 
Michoud Assembly Facility by Martin Marietta 
under Marshall Center management. New 
tooling, such as a welding fixture half the span 
of a football field, was required to handle pro- 
duction of the huge tank. Eventually, produc- 
tion of 24 tanks per year is planned. The barge 
transportation system developed to deliver 
Saturn stages is now used to transport Exter- 
nal Tanks to the launch sites. 

Preparing to mate the 
External Tank and Solid 
Rocket Boosters at 
Kennedy Space Center, 


Lowering Solid Rocket Booster into MSFC 
structural test stand 

The Solid Rocket Boosters are the first 
solid propellant rockets built for a manned 
space vehicle and the largest solid rockets 
ever flown. Burning for approximately two mi: 
utes, each booster produces almost three m.. 
lion pounds of thrust to augment the Shuttle's 
main propulsion system during liftoff. The 
boosters also help to steer the Shuttle during 
the critical first phase of ascent. The 11 -ton 
booster rocket nozzle is the largest movable 
nozzle ever used. The Solid Rocket Boosters 
were designed as an in-house Marshall Center 
project, with United Space Boosters as the 
assembly and refurbishment contractor. The 
Solid Rocket Motor is provided by the Morton 
Thiokol Corporation. 

The Solid Rocket Boosters are deceptively 
simple in appearance, considering their var- 
ious functions. On the launch pad, the boost- 
ers support the entire Shuttle assembly. In 
flight, they provide six million pounds of thrust 
and respond to the Orbiter's guidance and 
control computer to maintain the Shuttle's 
course. At burnout, the boosters separate from 
the External Tank and drop by parachute to 
the ocean for recovery and subsequent 

The major design drivers for the Solid 
Rocket Boosters were high thrust and reuse. 
The desired thrust was achieved by using 
state-of-the-art solid propellant and by using a 
long cylindrical motor with a specific core 

Descent of spent Solid 
Rocket Booster for recovery 
and reuse 

Newly developed 
filament-wound motor 
case for Solid Rocket 
Booster segments 

design that allows the propellant to burn in a 
carefully controlled manner. 

The requirement for reusability dictated 
durable materials and construction, which led 
to several innovations. Paints, coatings, and 
sealants were extensively tested and applied 
to surfaces of the booster structure to preclude 
corrosion of the hardware exposed to the 
harsh seawater environment. Specifications 
called for motor case segments that could be 
used 20 times. To achieve this durability, engi- 
neers selected a weld-free case formed by a 
continuous flow-forming process. Machining 
and heat treatment of the massive motor case 
segments also were major technical efforts. 

Reusability also meant making provisions 
for retrieval and refurbishment. The boosters 
contain a complete recovery subsystem that 
includes parachutes, beacons, lights, and tow 
fixtures. The 136-foot diameter main para- 
chutes are the largest ribbon parachutes ever 
used in an operational system, and the Solid 
Rocket Boosters are the largest objects ever 
recovered by parachute. The boosters are 
designed to survive water impact at almost 60 
miles per hour and maintain flotation with mini- 
mal damage. 

Besides fulfilling its primary responsibilities 
for propulsion systems, Marshall supported 
many other efforts in Shuttle systems engi- 
neering and analysis. The Center's technical 
competence in materials science, thermal 
engineering, structural dynamics, aerodynam- 
ics, guidance and navigation, orbital mechan- 
ics, systems testing, and systems integration 
all proved valuable to the overall Shuttle devel- 
opment program. Rigorous testing and a score 
of successful launches attest to the design 
achievement of the Shuttle propulsion 

IShuttle Testing 

Shuttle test activities were a major responsibil- 
ity of the Marshall Space Flight Center for 
several years in the late 1970's. Both in Hunts- 
ville and at the related NASA facilities in Loui- 
siana and Mississippi, as well as at contractor 
sites around the country, Marshall personnel 
participated in many development and qualifi- 
cation tests. Whether they worked with individ- 
ual components within a laboratory or 
participated in engine static firings or dynamic 
tests of the mated Shuttle elements, these 
people held to the standard of excellence nec- 
essary for a successful Shuttle program. Long 
before the first Shuttle launch on April 12, 

Solid Rocket Booster - the 
largest solid rocket motor 
ever flown and the first 
designed for reuse. 


1981, Marshall had built confidence in the pro- 
pulsion systems. 

Preparing for and coordinating the many 
different test programs was a significant tech- 
nical challenge. Rather than build new test 
facilities for the massive Shuttle elements, 
Marshall modified existing resources. Test fix- 
tures and equipment that had stood idle since 
the Saturn era were revived and remodeled to 
support various Shuttle test efforts. In addi- 
tion, special new equipment was constructed. 

The busiest year was 1978, when the 
External Tank structural and vibration tests, 
the Solid Rocket Booster structural tests, and 
the Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Tests 
were done in Huntsville by Marshall Center 
employees. Meanwhile, single engine tests 
and main propulsion system cluster firings 
were in progress at the National Space Tech- 
nology Laboratories (formerly Marshall's Mis- 
sissippi Test Facility). Solid Rocket Motor tests 
were underway in Utah, and subsystems 
tests, such as checkout of the booster para- 
chutes, were being completed elsewhere. 
Marshall played a prominent role in the year- 

Test firing of Solid Rocket 
Motor at Morton Thiokol 
facility in Utah 


Arrival of Enterprise at Marshall for year-long test series 

The Space Shuttle - a 
launch vehicle, cargo 
carrier, service station, 
research lab, and home in 

Congressman Ronnie 
Flippo touring Marshall 
during Shuttle 
test period 

ABOVE: MSFC test control engineer putting 
Shuttle elements through vibration tests 

RIGHT: Preparation for Mated Vertical 
Ground Vibration Tests 

long Mated Vertical Ground Vibration Test pro- 
gram, the critical evaluation of the entire Shut- 
tle complement - Orbiter, Tank, and Boosters - 
assembled for the first time. The phased test 
sequence began in March of 1978 when the 
Orbiter Enterprise arrived at Marshall and was 
greeted by throngs of employees and citizens. 
The Orbiter was hoisted into the modified 
Dynamic Test Stand originally built for Saturn 
V testing, mated first to an External Tank, and 
subjected to vibration frequencies comparable 
to those expected during launch and ascent. 
Several months later, the Solid Rocket Boost- 
ers were added for tests of the entire Shuttle 
assembly. The test series confirmed the struc- 
tural interfaces and mating of the entire Shut- 
tle system and allowed mathematical models 
used to predict the Shuttle's response to vibra- 
tions in flight to be adjusted so that effects for i 
future flight environments could be predicted 
adequately prior to launch. Marshall managed 
and conducted this important test program 
with support from the Shuttle contractors. 

Concurrently, both the External Tank and 
the Solid Rocket Boosters underwent inde- 
pendent structural tests. These activities 
occurred in Marshall's test stands and in the 
Building 4619 test facility, all formerly used to 
test Saturn stages. In addition, captive firings 
of a 6.4% scale model Shuttle enabled engi- 
neers to determine the launch acoustic envi- 
ronment and its effects on both the vehicle and 
the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center. 


Scale model firings also influenced launch pad 
design criteria for the new western launch site 
at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

Marshall's other principal test responsibility 
was for the Main Engine development. 
Engines were fired repeatedly during their 
development and later for flight qualification. 
The highlight of propulsion system testing was 
the Main Propulsion Test series of cluster fir- 
ings, in which three engines were mounted to 
an Orbiter mockup and fired simultaneously 
while drawing propellants from an actual Exter- 
nal Tank. These tests, which began in 1977, 
verified not only the operational compatibility of 
the main propulsion system elements but also 
propellant loading procedures and propellant 
feed systems. In addition, Marshall established 
an in-house laboratory to test and verify the 
avionics and software system of the Main 
Engines through simulations of all operating 

From earliest development through actual 
fights, major elements of the Shuttle have 
been, and continue to be, tested under 
Marshall Center supervision. These test pro- 
grams ensure the safe, reliable performance of 
the nation's Space Transportation System. 
Rigorous testing has always been a hallmark 
of Marshall's commitment to excellence. 

Shuttle Operations 

The Center's responsibilities for Space Shuttle 
Systems extended beyond the development 
phase into the operational era. Marshall per- 
sonnel are involved in two ongoing Shuttle 
efforts: launch support and production. (An 
additional major activity, the development and 
management of scientific payloads for Shuttle 
flights, is treated elsewhere in this text.) 

The Huntsville Operations Support Center 
(HOSC) in Building 4663 is a hub of activity 
during propellant loading, countdown, launch, 
and powered flight toward orbit. This facility 
has evolved considerably from the simpler 
Saturn era operations room and now is capa- 
ible of secured operations to support Depart- 
ment of Defense missions. From the HOSC, 
Marshall personnel monitor the status of the 
propulsion systems; via a sophisticated com- 
munications network, they receive data from 
sensors aboard the Shuttle and from Marshall 
management teams at the launch site. HOSC 
jduty entails around-the-clock work to guaran- 
tee a trouble-free launch on schedule. Evalua- 
tion of flight data is a crucial activity not only 
f or launch support but also to assure that 
'ollow-on flights can be safely made. 

Marshall is responsible for the continued 
production of External Tanks at the Michoud 
Assembly Facility. To manage its manufactur- 

ing enterprise, the Center engages in produc- 
tion planning, readiness reviews, and 
technology improvements on the production 
and assembly lines to reduce costs. Marshall 
is meeting the new challenge of mass produc- 
ing high-quality hardware and doing it on 
schedule and with decreasing costs. 

After a mission, the Solid Rocket Boosters 
are recovered and refurbished. Postflight 
activities include engineering assessments of 
the wear-and-tear on the hardware and neces- 
sary repairs. Marshall engineers have devised 
techniques to diminish impact damage to the 
boosters and to streamline refurbishment oper- 
ations for fast turn-around between missions. 

Another in a long series of 
successful Space Shuttle 

Engineers on duty in the HOSC during 
Space Shuttle missions 


Ongoing engine research 
and technology develop- 
ment at Marshall 

)Shuttle Improvements 

Shuttle responsibilities did not end with devel- 
opment of operational Main Engines, External 
Tanks, and Solid Rocket Boosters. Instead, 
Marshall is engaged in ongoing technology 
advancement to improve the Shuttle propul- 
sion systems at reduced costs. In various labo- 
ratories around the Center, engineering 
evaluations of Shuttle performance continue 
as Marshall's experts investigate ways to make 
a proven product less costly. 

The two primary challenges are to increase 
the Shuttle's payload-carrying capability and to 
improve the Shuttle's performance. To meet 
the first challenge, Marshall engaged in a 
weight-reduction campaign to trim pounds 
from propulsion elements in order to carry 
heavier payloads into orbit. A lightweight 
External Tank was developed by removing 
some insulation, trimming material from some 
structural elements, and using stronger mate- 
rials where possible; this tank is already in 
use. The Center also developed lighter weight 
steel motor cases for the Solid Rocket Boost- 
ers and an innovative filament-wound case 
that is even lighter and stronger. For improved 
economics and performance, Marshall is also 
managing the development of a Main Engine 
with a longer flight lifetime. 

The design of Shuttle propulsion elements 
continues to be refined through Marshall's 
ongoing flight certification program; many of 
the improvements have been installed and are 
now in use. The continuing advancement of 
Shuttle technology is as important and chal- 
lenging as the original design and develop- 
ment efforts. 

Shuttle improvements studied in 
Marshall's engineering laboratories 

fShuttle Legacies 

In 1981, Marshall and the nation once again 
watched expectantly as a new launch vehicle, 
the Space Shuttle, rose from the pad. This 
successful first flight with the Orbiter Columbia 
introduced the era of the Space Transportation 
System and a continuing series of Shuttle mis- 
sions. Three other Orbiters - Challenger, Dis- 
covery, and Atlantis - soon joined the fleet, and 
Americans felt new pride in the triumphs of the 
space program. 

The Shuttle development effort evolved 
naturally out of the Saturn experience in large 
launch vehicles and propulsion systems. 
Marshall continued its close working relation- 
ship with contractors and maintained its strong 
technical competence in the relevant engineer- 
ing disciplines. The Center also continued its 
successful managerial practices. However, 
certain changes in NASA's philosophy and 
resources challenged Marshall in new ways. 
During the Shuttle period, Marshall Space 
Flight Center became a leaner, stronger insti- 
tution as it adapted to these changes. 

The principal philosophical change was the 
necessity of reuse. In a time of declining bud 
gets and increased awareness of limited 
resources, reusability was a high priority. 
Marshall met the technical challenge of devel- 
oping durable space hardware that could be 
recycled for many missions. Despite delays 
along the way, the Shuttle development pro- 
gram proceeded successfully. 

The achievement was especially note- 
worthy because the Center also was tasked 
with the administrative challenge of reassign- 
ing facilities and personnel. As Saturn work 
tapered off and Marshall became involved in 
other projects, the Center had to reallocate 
many of its resources. Major reorganization 
occurred as leadership passed from Dr. 
von Braun in 1970 to three successors in four 
years. From 1965, the peak year of Saturn 
activity, to the first year of Shuttle activity in 
1970, Marshall lost almost 20% of its civil ser- 
vice work force as federal budget cuts slashed 
the Center's funding in half. This trend contin- 
ued well into the 1970's until the budget and 

The Space Shuttle mark- 
edly expands man's ability 
to do things in space at 
lower cost, more often, 
and more effectively than 
ever before. 


staffing levels stabilized with staff at approxi- 
mately 60% of the peak Saturn year. 

Dr. W. R. Lucas, who became Center 
Director in 1974, remarked that Marshall had 
survived its years of crisis with its commitment 
to excellence intact. The Center managed to 
cope with the reductions and still tackle very 
ambitious projects. 

Meanwhile, the Shuttle endeavor influ- 
enced the Center's work in space science and 
manned orbital systems. Development of a 
vehicle capable of routine access to space 
opened many possibilities for using space as a 
laboratory and work place. The Center's devel- 
opment activity in flight experiments, observa- 
tories, and basic research and technology 
accelerated noticeably during this period. 
Marshall also devoted considerable attention 
to manned space activity - servicing space- 
craft, assembling large structures, doing 
experiments - made possible by the Shuttle. 


A work place and delivery 
vehicle in orbit 

! Twentieth-century 



Deployment of NASA's 

Tracking and Data Relay 

Satellite (TDRS) and its 

Inertial Upper Stage from 

the Shuttle payload bay 

OMV simulator in MSFC's 
teleoperation and robotics 
research laboratory 

Concept for an Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle 
to ferry payloads to and from the Shuttle in 
low- Earth orbit 

Transportation Systems 

In 1977, Marshall acquired responsibilities for 
another propulsion element, an upper stage to 
boost payloads to higher orbits or to send 
spacecraft on interplanetary voyages. While 
the Air Force had primary responsibility for 
development of an Inertial Upper Stage, 
Marshall became NASA's management and 
coordination center, providing the agency's 
design and operational requirements to the Air 
Force and participating in the development of 
two upper stage configurations for NASA mis- 
sions. Marshall participated in key design 
reviews, interface working groups, and test 
activities for the NASA upper stage 

NASA's first use of the upper stage to 
launch a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite in 
1983 was only a partial success; the satellite 
did not reach the desired orbit and further 
launches were delayed pending evaluation and 
modification of the boosters. The upper stage 
subsequently performed satisfactorily on a 
mission in 1985. 

The Center also became involved in two 
commercial ventures for upper stages. For 
Shuttle missions, Marshall monitors the Pay- 
load Assist Module developed independently 
by McDonnell Douglas. A larger Transfer Orbit 
Stage under development by the Orbital Sci- 
ences Corporation is also being monitored by 
Marshall. These upper stages broaden the 
variety of payloads that can be placed in orbit 
from the Shuttle. 

What kinds of cargo carriers and people 
movers are needed in the Space Station era? 
As commercial activity in space increases with 
people living and working there, the demand 
for transportation service will multiply. Planning 
and concept studies are well under way at 
Marshall Space Flight Center to forecast the 
space transportation needs of the future and to 
develop appropriate vehicles. 

In the future, different vehicles will be 
needed for travel between the ground, low 
orbit, high orbit, and beyond. In general, 
Marshall planners foresee three new classes 
of vehicles to satisfy different mission require- 
ments: Orbital Maneuvering Vehicles, Orbital 
Transfer Vehicles, and advanced large-lift vehi- 
cles. These new vehicles will augment the 
capabilities of the proven Space Shuttle, which 
will continue to offer routine passenger and 
cargo service between the ground and low- 
Earth orbit. 

The idea of an Orbital Maneuvering Vehi- 
cle, a space "tug," has been considered at the 
Center for several years. In 1977, Marshall 
was authorized to define a Teleoperator 


Retrieval System, a remotely controlled propul- 
sive vehicle that could rendezvous with an 
orbiting spacecraft, grapple it, and move it 
elsewhere. Originally conceived for future on- 
orbit servicing missions, the teleoperator was 
considered for use in a possible Skylab rescue 
attempt. Development activity accelerated to 
meet a pressing schedule as Skylab's orbit 
decayed more rapidly than anticipated. 

Work on the Teleoperator Retrieval System 
progressed through rendezvous and docking 
simulations as Marshall investigated suitable 
hardware fixtures and remote control proce- 
dures. The Center also engaged in a number 
of studies to determine the visual and manipu- 
lator aids needed for remote operations; televi- 
sion systems, hand controls, and end effectors 
received careful attention. Although the Skylab 
reboost/deboost mission did not occur, the 
planning activity energized teleoperator 
research and technology at the Center. The 
capability for orbital docking simulation was 
expanded to include a unique six degree-of- 
freedom motion system for evaluation of dock- 
ing mechanisms. 

The Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle now 
under study is an improved version of this 
space tug with a larger service role than origi- 
nally foreseen. In addition to satellite retrieval 
and delivery tasks, this vehicle might perform 
remote maintenance, assembly, and logistics 
tasks to service free-flying spacecraft and also 
support Space Station activities. 

Marshall Space Flight Center has been a 
pioneer in advanced teleoperation and robotics 
technology research for more than a decade. 
The Center is continuing this research in a 
new evaluation laboratory opened in 1984. 

"We will undoubtedly 
continue to explore nearer 
space. We will keep going 
to the moon, maybe one 
day build a permanent 
camp on the moon, and 
then go on to Mars and 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1967 

This unique facility houses a 4,000 square foot 
precision flat floor and air bearing vehicles; it is 
used as a test bed for remotely controlled vehi- 
cles. Simulations in the facility serve to evalu- 
ate remote systems concepts and also to train 
operators. The laboratory will play a prominent 
role as an Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle 

Orbital Transfer Vehicles are required to 
deliver some orbital payloads, including peo- 
ple, to higher altitudes beyond the Shuttle's 
range, which is limited to about 600 miles, and 
to launch interplanetary probes from Earth 
orbit. They also can be used to ferry space- 
craft between stationary geosynchronous orbit 
at 22,000 miles and the Space Station in low- 
Earth orbit for servicing or refurbishment, or 
they can be used to carry work crews to ser- 
vice distant satellites. 

Over the years, Marshall engineers have 
considered various concepts for advanced 
transportation systems to meet these needs 
for greater payload capability. Among the most 
promising were a Spinning Solid Upper Stage 
for deliveries to geosynchronous orbit and a 
Solar Electric Propulsion Stage that generated 
and used its own power. The Center is now 
investigating several concepts for aeroassisted 
braking that would enable a returning Orbital 
Transfer Vehicle to slow its speed without rely- 
ing on an engine. Although no particular hard- 
ware configuration has yet been selected, the 

Concepts for Orbital 
Transfer Vehicles to ferry 
payloads, supplies, and 
astronauts between low- 
Earth and geosynchronous 



planning studies draw upon Marshall's resident 
propulsion and vehicle design talents. 

The Center has also given much attention 
to complementary launch vehicles derived 
from the basic Space Shuttle propulsion ele- 
ments. These may serve as logistical supply 
vehicles to carry needed materials and equip- 
ment into orbit. The challenge in this effort is to 
adapt existing designs for missions requiring 
vastly greater payload lift, perhaps a million 
pounds of payload as compared to the 
Shuttle's 65,000 pound capability. Various 
combinations of modified engines, tanks, and 
boosters are being considered. Although no 
specific concept has been authorized for 
development yet, the thrust of these studies is 
to augment the capabilities of the Shuttle for 
unmanned delivery of payloads and for launch 
of extremely heavy cargo. 

>A Glimpse of the Future 

Very soon, space will be a busy work place. 
Traffic will increase noticeably as people, 
materials, and equipment are routinely trans- 
ported back and forth between the ground and 
low-Earth orbit. Traffic will also begin to flow to 
and from more distant regions of space - geo- 
synchronous orbit, the moon, the neighboring 

Side-mount Shuttle-Derived Vehicle 

planets. Talk of manned lunar colonies or a 
manned expedition to Mars is no more idle 
today than talk of a Space Station was 15 years 
ago. Now the Space Station is becoming a real- 
ity; what about the other dreams? 

Sophisticated as it is, the current Space 
Shuttle is but the first generation model. It 
alone cannot meet all the transportation needs 
of the future. New vehicle models are yet to be 
designed and developed. Like automobiles, 
they will progressively become more efficient, 
more comfortable, more serviceable. 

Consider how rapidly propulsion systems 
and launch vehicles have evolved. It took only 
a decade to develop and prove the transporta- 
tion system that safely carried people to the 
moon and back. In another decade, a reusable 
space vehicle was in service. What was once 
inconceivable - spaceflight - is now taken for 

Although it is now possible to send people 
back and forth, to place satellites in desired 
orbits, to deploy and retrieve payloads, these 
achievements are rudimentary compared to 
what can be done. Despite the advances of 
recent years, technology has not yet 
approached the limits of what is theoretically 

Marshall is NASA's primary Center for pro- 
pulsion systems development, and many of 
the test facilities here are unmatched. Marshall 
also has unique facilities for the development 
of large structural systems and impressive lab- 
oratory resources in the various engineering 
disciplines. The necessary tools are available 
here to meet the challenges of future space 
transportation systems. 

Marshall people can and will make new 
strides in the technologies for advanced pro- 
pulsion systems and launch vehicles. Whereas 
the first quarter-century results were the 
Saturns and the Shuttle, in the next quarter 
Marshall may produce a fleet of quite different 
vehicles - towering ones for heavy-lift 
launches, agile ones for orbital maneuvering, 
powerful but lightweight ones for orbit trans- 
fers, vehicles that run on exotic fuels or novel 
engines, robotic vehicles, perhaps even com- 
pact models for manned use. The possibilities 
are exciting and unlimited. 

As it looks toward future transportation in 
space, Marshall is exploiting its wealth of 
experience and imagination. Drawing upon the 
technical expertise of its staff in all the engi- 
neering disciplines, this Center expects the 
thrust into space to remain one of its primary 
occupations and achievements in the years 
ahead. ■ 


"You and I have been 
privileged to live and par- 
ticipate in a unique period 
in man's history, a period 
of explosive technological 
advancement that has 
been unequaled in any 
other epoch." 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

In-line Shuttle-Derived Vehicle 

Concept for new Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle 

Propulsion and transportation for the future: 
a high priority at Marshall 






hy do we launch 
vehicles and peo- 
ple into space? 
What is the purpose 
of space flight? From a 
scientific point of view, 
the answer is that we can 
do research in space that is 
impossible on Earth. There 
we have a global view of our 
planet for atmospheric and geo- 
physical observations, an unobstructed view of 
the heavens for astronomical observations, a 
microgravity environment for experiments in 
life sciences and materials science, and direct 
exposure to the radiation and vacuum of 
space. Thus, space is a unique laboratory. 
NASA's charter explicitly states that "activities 
in space should be devoted to peaceful pur- 
poses for the benefit of all mankind." Space 
science research extends the frontiers of 
knowledge in accordance with that charter. 

Even while they were affiliated with military 
projects, the early rocket pioneers considered 
the potential uses of rockets for scientific 
research in space. It seemed quite practical to 
replace missile warheads with scientific experi- 
ments or to develop more powerful vehicles to 
place satellites, laboratories, and people into 
space. Dr. Wernher von Braun remarked that 
the driving ambition of his colleagues had been 
to engineer rockets for scientific research. With 
a singleness of purpose, they were dedicated 
to the evolution of space flight for the explora- 
tion of the universe. 

The Marshall Center's involvement in space 
science can be traced to the launch of 
America's first satellite, Explorer I in 1958, 
aboard the Jupiter C rocket developed in ' 
Huntsville by von Braun's group and the Army. 
The scientific return was immediate and star- 
tling: discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts 
encircling Earth. Shortly thereafter, the 

"I am convinced that man's 
inevitable march toward 
knowledge is now over the 
very earliest hurdles only, 
and the vastness of the 
unknown still before us is 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1958 


Huntsville group launched a Pioneer satellite 
on a solar expedition and placed another 
Explorer into orbit. Although some of the 
Explorer and Pioneer satellites were developed 
elsewhere, the rocket group's appetite for 
space science was whetted by participating in 
the flight experiments. Soon they began to find 
opportunities for scientific experiments and 
payloads on rocket test flights, and they began 
to plan future missions dedicated to science. 
Scientists involved with the launch team even- 
tually became the nucleus of Marshall's Space 
Science Laboratory. 

Over the first quarter-century of its history, 
space science research has evolved into a sig- 
nificant mission at Marshall Space Flight 
Center. The Center's staff includes distin- 
guished scientists in the disciplines of astron- 
omy and astrophysics, atmospheric physics, 
solar and magnetospheric physics, and mate- 
rials science. They have made important con- 
tributions to knowledge through work not only 
in the laboratories here but also in the vast nat- 
ural laboratory of space. Combining their tal- 
ents with Marshall's engineering and 
managerial resources, they have developed 
sophisticated space observatories as well as a 
host of smaller flight experiments and pay- 
loads. Furthermore, research at the Center is 
extending the frontiers of knowledge in several 
fields of science and technology. 

The Marshall Center's achievements in 
space science are sometimes overshadowed 
by the size and spectacle of its achievements 
in launch vehicle engineering. Yet, the institu- 
tion also has a rich scientific heritage. Marshall 
scientists are steadily seeking to solve the 
mysteries of the universe. In the quest for 
knowledge, they are committed to excellence. 

fSmall Scientific Payloads 

The impetus for the large Saturn booster was 
the exploration of space. During its develop- 
ment, Marshall had several opportunities to 
use the Saturn for research payloads. The 
Center also developed some small satellites 
that were launched by other vehicles. 

As a bonus on two of the early Saturn engi- 
neering test flights in 1962, the dummy upper 
stages were used for a scientific experiment 
called Project Highwater. Thousands of gallons 
of ballast water from the inert stages were 
released into the upper atmosphere. This effort 
to investigate the effects of water clouds 
marked the first use of a Saturn vehicle for sci- 
entific purposes, even though the research 
was clearly secondary to the engineering 
objectives of the flights. 

The first genuine scientific payloads 
launched by Saturn vehicles, and the first sat- 
ellites for which the Marshall Space Flight 
Center had full responsibility, were the three 
Pegasus micrometeoroid detection satellites 
orbited in 1965. The purpose of the Pegasus 
project was to collect information about the 
abundance of potentially hazardous microme- 
teoroids at high altitudes, where the manned 
Apollo missions would orbit. Spacecraft 
designers were keenly interested in the infor- 
mation, because the vehicle and crew were in 
jeopardy if tiny particles could puncture a 
spacecraft skin. 

As project manager, the Marshall Center 
was responsible for the design, production, 
and operation of the satellites and for data 
analysis. Working with the satellite contractor, 
Fairchild, Marshall personnel built up valuable 
experience in the design and operation of sci- 
entific payloads, particularly in sensor technol- 
ogy, satellite stabilization, thermal control, and 
data transmission. Micrometeoroid detectors 
and sample protective shields of varying thick- 
ness were mounted on the satellite's wing-like 
solar cell arrays. The sensors successfully 
measured the frequency, size, direction, and 
penetration of scores of micrometeoroid 

Marshall's first major venture in space sci- 
ence research paid handsomely. Micrometeo- 
roid penetration data collected by the Pegasus 
satellites and telemetered to the ground were 
used by spacecraft engineers to confirm 
Saturn-Apollo and other designs. Pegasus 
results also influenced thermal coating technol- 
ogy and gave insight into the expected lifetime 
of materials exposed to space for long periods. 
Furthermore, the data made a valuable contri- 

ve Marshall Center's first satellite, Pegasus 


Assembly of Lageos 
satellite at MSFC 

bution to general knowledge of the nearby 
space environment; facts replaced theory. 

During the period after Pegasus, the focus 
of scientific activity at Marshall was on various 
experiments to fly aboard Skylab, the nation's 
first orbital laboratory and space station. As 
discussed elsewhere in this text, Marshall's 
multidisciplinary space science capabilities 
grew noticeably stronger during the Skylab era. 
Meanwhile, two satellites were being devel- 
oped for quite different missions, one practical 
and the other theoretical. In 1976, Marshall 
launched both the Laser Geodynamics 
Satellite (Lageos) and the Gravitational 
Redshift Probe A (GP-A). 

Lageos, which is still in orbit, is essentially 
a mirror in space. The 900-pound, 2-foot diam- 
eter satellite precisely reflects laser beams 
from ground stations for extremely accurate 
ranging measurements. The purpose of 
Lageos is to measure movements of Earth's 
crust; movements of less than an inch can be 
detected by timing the laser beam's 3700 mile 
round trip. The practical application of this 
ranging system is improved understanding of 
earthquakes, continental drift, and other geo- 
physical phenomena. The satellite was con- 
ceived and manufactured at the Marshall 

The purpose of the 125-pound Gravita- 
tional Probe (GP-A) was more abstract: to test 
the principle of equivalence in Einstein's 

"We must look beyond our 
limited horizons to dis- 
cover the laws of science 
and the sources of energy 
that will govern our future 
on this planet." 

Dr. Eberhard Rees, 1970 

Final checkout of GP-A experiment at Marshall 


general theory of relativity. According to theory 
but never demonstrated, a clock will appear to 
run faster in a weaker gravitational field, at a 
greater distance from Earth. Scientists from 
Marshall and the Smithsonian Astrophysical 
Observatory jointly devised an ingenious 
experiment to test the theory. A very stable 
atomic clock was launched through Earth's 
gravitational field to a peak altitude of 10,000 
km (6200 mi.), and its readings during free 
flight were compared with those of an identical 
reference clock on the ground. The experiment 
lasted about an hour, and results confirmed the 
theory. Marshall had overall management 
responsibility for the construction, integration, 
and systems testing of the satellite. The 
Marshall-designed thermal control system met 
unusually stringent requirements. 

Marshall scientists have developed a great 
variety of small payloads for rocket flights. 
Astronomers, solar scientists, magnetospheric 
and atmospheric physicists rely on these small 
experiments to gather data and test new 
instrument concepts. One of the Center's most 
successful efforts for small payloads has been 
the Space Processing Applications Rocket 
(SPAR) project. Between 1975 and 1983, 
Marshall accomplished 10 suborbital flights 
which altogether carried several dozen small 
materials processing experiments. Intriguing 
results were achieved in the five-minute 

periods of near weightlessness as the rocket 
passes through its apex. (Microgravity mate- 
rials processing research is discussed in detail 
elsewhere in this text). 

Small scientific payloads have an important 
place in Marshall's history on their own merits 
and as forerunners of more ambitious efforts. 
For example, Pegasus data are still consulted 
today as the standard reference on microme- 
teoroids. Rocket-borne payloads have served 
as economical test beds for new concepts, and 
they bridged the period between Skylab and 
Shuttle flight opportunities. 

With the advent of the Space Transporta- 
tion System, scientists are now concentrating 
on experiments to be flown on Shuttle and 
Spacelab missions. These new facilities are 
preferred because experiments can be flown 
frequently for a week at a time, operated by 
crew members, and returned for analysis, 
modification, and reflight. Many of the Center's 
scientists are thus developing small payloads 
for manned missions in space. 

f Space Observatories 

Given its expertise in developing large launch 
vehicles, it is not really surprising that Marshall 
Space Flight Center has also developed large 
scientific systems. Over the years, the Center 
has been responsible for a family of observa- 
tory-class payloads, large complements of 
instruments designed to operate together and 
make related scientific observations. Just as 
an observatory on the ground contains various 
instruments for the common use of many sci- 
entists pursuing their own research, so the big 
systems developed at Marshall function as 

The lineage to date includes the Apollo 
Telescope Mount on Skylab (1973), the three 
High Energy Astronomy Observatories (1977- 
79), the Hubble Space Telescope (scheduled 
for launch in 1986), and the planned Advanced 
X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (1991). Each of 
these observatories is a unique scientific 
resource, offering scientists around the world 
the most advanced technology available in its 
time for new insight into the universe. 

Circular Apollo Telescope 
Mount, a sophisticated solar 

Mount - 
first manned 
in space. 

Materials processing experiments 
for a SPAR flight 





fSkylab Apollo 
Telescope Mount 

Marshall's first endeavor in observatory-class 
payloads was the Apollo Telescope Mount 
developed for use with the Skylab orbital work- 
shop. A complement of six solar telescopes 
and two related cameras, the observatory com- 
pared favorably in size and pointing capability 
to some of the best observatories on the 
ground. Yet, the observatory in space revealed 
the sun as it could never be seen from the 
ground underneath the obscuring atmosphere. 
The Apollo Telescope Mount was an unprece- 
dented tool for solar research, and the 
Marshall Center played a major role in its 
development and operation. 

ATM thermal testing 

in MSFC vacuum chamber 

Skylab scientist-astronaut at the ATM control console 



New views of a familiar sun in visible light, 
X- rays, hydrogen-alpha, and ultraviolet light 

Although its mission occurred in 1973, the 
observatory concept originated in 1965, when 
NASA began to consider a program to suc- 
ceed the Saturn-Apollo missions. Called the 
Apollo Applications Program, the effort was 
directed to the use of Saturn-era technology 
for new purposes. At the crux of the program 
were concepts for converting a spent Saturn 
stage into an orbital workshop or precursor 
space station. The Apollo Telescope Mount 
evolved from a fairly simple initial concept into 
an advanced observatory attached to such an 
orbital workshop. 

In 1966, Marshall Space Flight Center was 
assigned responsibility for developing the solar 
observatory. While six of the eight instruments 
were developed at other research institutions, 
Marshall coordinated the design, integration, 
and assembly into a single payload. In addi- 
tion, the Center developed two scientific instru- 
ments and designed, produced, and tested the 
mount for the entire cluster. Marshall also was 
responsible for the attached laboratory mod- 
ule, called the Multiple Docking Adapter, which 
housed the control and display console for the 
observatory and a complement of Earth 
resources experiments. The Apollo Telescope 
Mount project drew upon all the scientific, engi- 
neering, and managerial talents of the Center. 

The purposes of the Apollo Telescope 
Mount were to observe, monitor, and record 
solar features over a wavelength range from 
visible light through ultraviolet and X-ray emis- 
sions. Each of the instruments was the most 
advanced of its type; used together, they could 
examine different layers of the solar atmos- 
phere or simultaneously scrutinize the same 
solar feature across the spectrum. 

Marshall engineers met a number of chal- 
lenges to provide an observatory mount that 
would enable the instruments to take full 
advantage of being in space. Besides provid- 
ing a large optical bench and a protective can- 
ister to support and enclose the instruments, 
Marshall was responsible for the power, ther- 
mal, pointing, and deployment systems. The 
control and display and data systems also 
were developed under the Center's auspices. 
Marshall had overall systems integration 
responsibility, including alignment and calibra- 
tion for the entire observatory. 

By 1968, Marshall had awarded contracts 
to various industrial partners. Bendix, for 
example, produced an attitude control gyro for 
extremely precise pointing accuracy and stabil- 
ity. Martin Marietta was assigned the payload 
integration function and assembly of the con- 

Changing coronal hole visible in X-ray images 


trol console. The thermal systems unit and 
outer canister were assembled in-house in the 
Center's Manufacturing Engineering Labora- 
tory. By mid-1970 the Apollo Telescope Mount 
design received final approval, and a year later 
the flight unit underwent engineering tests in 
Huntsville and Houston. 

In the meantime, a full-scale mockup of the 
observatory was installed underwater in 
Marshall's Neutral Buoyancy Simulator in 1969. 
Because the primary data collection was pho- 
tographic, the crew had to change film car- 
tridges periodically, a task done outside 
Skylab. Thus, extravehicular activity (EVA) 
reviews and crew training exercises were con- 
ducted in a simulated zero-gravity environment 
at Marshall to evaluate the crew aids and pro- 
cedures for changing film and otherwise serv- 
icing the observatory. 

The nine-month operation of the Skylab 
solar observatory was a stunning success. A 
harvest of more than 150,000 photographic 
exposures was collected, and observations 
revealed many unsuspected solar features and 
events. In particular, the Skylab data gave sci- 
entists an appreciation for the importance and 
complexity of the sun's magnetic fields. With its 
precise pointing accuracy and stability and its 
array of sensitive detectors across a wide 
wavelength range, the observatory revealed 
the sun as it had never been seen before. 
Solar scientists at Marshall and elsewhere 
gained a wealth of new information that far 
exceeded their expectations. 

Credit for the success of the observatory 
belonged not only to the instrumentation, 
which had been developed and assembled 
under Marshall Center management, but also 
to the crew, who were well-trained in solar 
physics and operation of the telescopes. They 
knew what to look for and how to use the tele- 
scopes in concert to gain the most revealing 
information. They stayed on the alert for signs 
of interesting solar activity and responded to 
many opportunities beyond the scheduled 
observations. Furthermore, their ingenuity in 
troubleshooting and repairing instruments 
greatly enhanced the scientific yield of the mis- 
sion. Marshall had participated in training the 
astronauts and justifiably felt pride in the crew's 
fine performance. 

Marshall scientists and engineers also were 
involved in mission support during the nine- 
month period of Skylab orbital activity. Respon- 
sibilities included monitoring the Apollo 
Telescope Mount experiments and subsystems 
from the Huntsville Operations Support Center 

and monitoring the scientific observations from 
the operations control center in Houston. The 
Skylab solar observing program was carefully 
planned before the mission but was updated 
daily in response to observations and predic- 
tions from a worldwide solar watch. Investiga- 
tive teams, including Marshall scientists, met 
daily to assess data and coordinate upcoming 
observations. During the mission, their com- 
munication with the crew was a contributing 
factor to the highly successful use of the 

The Skylab Apollo Telescope Mount project 
was Marshall's first experience in developing 
and managing a major scientific payload for a 
manned mission. In this effort, the Center built 
new capabilities in scientific instrumentation, 
crew systems, and crew training. The Skylab 
experience became the foundation for increas- 
ingly ambitious ventures in observatory devel- 
opment and the use of space for scientific 

Telescopes in space have 
opened our eyes to a new 
universe, invisible from 
the ground. 

Solar flare viewed in ultraviolet light 








The family of High Energy Astronomy Observatories 

Checkout of HEAO-2 
telescope at MSFC 

Crab Nebula 
in visible light 

fHigh Energy 
Astronomy Observatories 

As the Apollo Telescope Mount project reached 
its culmination, a new observatory project was 
taking shape at Marshall - a series of three 
large, unmanned observatories for X-ray, 
gamma ray, and cosmic ray investigations. The 
Center served as project manager for the 
development of the High Energy Astronomy 
Observatories (HEAO), working with TRW, the 
prime contractor for the spacecraft. The scien- 
tific instruments aboard the observatories were 
designed by scientists at universities and other 
research centers, with technical inputs from 

The HEAO program spanned the decade of 
the seventies from early planning in 1970, 
through the year of peak activity in 1976, to the 
launches in 1977, 1978, and 1979. With these 
observatories, the new field of high energy 
astrophysics came of age. Thousands of 
celestial X-ray and gamma ray sources were 
discovered as astronomers had their first long, 
clear look at the universe in this fairly unfamil- 
iar part of the spectrum. For the first time, they 
had sharply focused X-ray images of distant 
galaxies, supernova remnants, pulsars, quas- 
ars, and other intriguing objects. The quick 
pace of discovery, revealing highly energetic 
objects and events, changed astronomers' 
understanding of the universe almost 

As usual, the Center's laboratories were 
heavily engaged in the technical and scientific 


Hidden pulsar in 
Crab Nebula, 
revealed in HEAO 
X-ray image 

Andromeda Galaxy in visible light 

HEAO Image showing X-ray sources within Andromeda 

iubble Space Telescope, premier space 
observatory for the next generation 

iSpects of the new observatories. A highlight 
I Marshall's involvement was the testing and 
alibration of the HEAO-2 telescope, the first 
naging X-ray telescope and the largest X-ray 
jlescope ever built. To qualify this remarkably 
recise instrument and others in the future, 
larshall erected a unique X-ray calibration 
nd test facility, larger and more sophisticated 
lan any in the world. Completed in 1976, the 
icility contained a 1000 foot long by 3 foot 
iameter vacuum tube (for the X-ray path) con- 
ecting an X-ray generator and an instrument 
?st chamber. 

The HEAO missions were unqualified suc- 
esses. All spacecraft exceeded their expected 
fetimes and the resultant data collection was 
normous. In their day they were the largest 
utomated scientific payloads with the lowest 
ost per pound ever placed in orbit. In the 
Durse of the program, there were technical 
ifficulties with the advanced gyro and mirror 
schnology needed to meet the rigorous point- 
g and sensitivity requirements. In addition, 
ie Center encountered new management 
lallenges, for the HEAO program fell within 
ASA's period of retrenchment. With con- 
tained budgets and reductions in work force, 
e HEAO program was descoped more than 
ice. Marshall and its partners had to rethink 
| id restructure the missions within new con- 
joints. Nevertheless, the observatories were 
lmensely successful, and Marshall's reputa- 
Dn for developing and managing scientific 
jiyloads grew. 

fHubble Space Telescope 

Currently, the Marshall Center is managing one 
of the most exciting scientific payloads in its 
history - the Hubble Space Telescope, named 
in honor of the twentieth-century American 
astronomer Edwin P. Hubble. Heralded as per- 
haps the most important scientific instrument 
ever flown, the Space Telescope is expected to 
revolutionize modern astronomy and to serve 
as the world's premier astronomical research 
facility for the rest of the century. It is an impos- 
ing instrument; 43 feet long, 14 feet in diame- 
ter, with a 2.4-meter (94-inch) primary mirror 
and five large detectors, the telescope weighs 
12 tons. The Space Telescope will enable 
astronomers to see 7 times farther into space 
and observe objects that appear 50 times fain- 
ter than they can see from the best ground- 
based observatories. 

Inspecting the huge primary mirror before 
installation in the telescope 

Neutral buoyancy mockup 
for crew training 



Exploring the universe with powerful new telescopes 

Following various science and engineering 
concept studies in the late 1960's, Marshall 
Space Flight Center was assigned Space 
Telescope project management responsibilitie 
in 1972. For the next five years, the Center 
conducted various studies both in-house and 
under contract to define the science and engi 
neering requirements. By 1977, the basic 
observatory design was settled and contracto 
were selected for two of the major elements - 
Perkin-Elmer for the Optical Telescope 
Assembly and Lockheed Missiles and Space 
Company for the Support Systems Module ar 
systems integration. NASA's Goddard Space 
Flight Center was assigned responsibility for 
development of the scientific instruments. In 
exchange for a percentage of viewing time, th 
European Space Agency agreed to provide th 
solar array power system and one of the sciet 
tific instruments. The Center already has don< 
much of the definition and systems engineer- 
ing work in-house; Marshall is now busy man- 
aging the hardware deliveries and assembly ii 
preparation for launch. 

The Space Telescope represents a new 
observatory concept, one designed to be 
launched by the Space Shuttle and serviced i 
space by astronauts. This new feature intra- 
duced new challenges for the project manage 
ment team. 

More than any other previous scientific pa 
load, the Space Telescope has tasked 
Marshall's crew systems experts to develop tr, 
tools, workstations, and procedures for orbital] 
servicing. For several years in laboratory and 
neutral buoyancy tests, they have evaluated 
extravehicular activity techniques for normal 
and contingency servicing tasks, such as 
replacing components, removing scientific 
instruments, and handling solar arrays. 

The Space Telescope project also has 
tapped the Center's resources for structural, ' 
electronics, and thermal control engineering. 
Support teams in the laboratories have workeij 
on alignment, thermal balance, contamination 
control, and pointing. In-house design, test, 
and analysis were especially important in 
development of the instrument latches and th< 
telescope's fine guidance sensors. 

Both major elements developed under 
Marshall's management - the Optical 
Telescope Assembly and the Support System 
Module - presented challenging technical 
problems. There was no precedent in space 
hardware for the primary mirror, which had to 
be large and lightweight with an ultra-precise 
reflecting surface. Similarly, there was no com 


parable pointing and attitude control system; to 
detect and make images of very faint objects, 
long duration exposures are necessary, which 
means that the telescope must maintain accu- 
rate, stable pointing for hours. Both the mirror 
and the pointing and control system were 
quantum leaps in the capability of space 
astronomy hardware. 

The Marshall Center plays a major role in 
ground tests and orbital checkout of Space 
Telescope. Marshall personnel are preparing 
test plans and monitoring test activities before 
launch to verify that the telescope responds to 
commands and puts out data properly. Tests 
on the launch pad will be monitored from the 
Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC). 
The Marshall HOSC team will actively support 
tests of the telescope and science instruments 
during Space Telescope's first six months in 
orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope is the 
nation's biggest single investment in space sci- 
ence. Its development costs and progress have 
attracted considerable public attention, and the 
telescope's fortunes and schedules have been 
linked to the Shuttle's. Marshall has kept the 
project on course despite a troublesome share 
of technical and budgetary difficulties. Space 
Telescope is scheduled for a Shuttle delivery in 
1986. As launch of the observatory nears, 
astronomers around the world eagerly await an 
extraordinary view of the universe. 

'There is good reason 
to believe that the Space 
Telescope . . . will be the 
most important scientific 
instrument ever flown." 

James M. Beggs 

NASA Administrator, 1982 

fAdvanced X-Ray 
Astrophysics Facility 

The newest member of Marshall's family of 
space observatories is the planned Advanced 
X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF), which 
builds on experience gained in both the High 
Energy Astronomy Observatories and the 
Hubble Space Telescope projects. Like the for- 
mer, it is an observatory for X-ray investiga- 
tions but with appreciably improved 
capabilities; like the latter, it is designed to be 
launched from the Shuttle and serviced in 
orbit. In the nation's strategy for astronomical 
research, the AXAF is intended to be a com- 
panion to the Space Telescope and other 
advanced observatories for a coordinated, 
broad spectrum study of the universe. 

In 1978, Marshall and the Smithsonian 
Astrophysical Observatory completed a joint 
conceptual design study for this new tele- 
scope. Since then, both partners have worked 
with an astrophysics advisory group to define 
scientific requirements and a desirable set of 
focal plane instruments. Project definition activ- 
ity is now in progress. 

AXAF, planned 
X-ray observatory 

Seeking to understand 

black holes 

and other enigmas 


In size and shape, the proposed X-ray 
observatory bears a family resemblance to 
Space Telescope. Inside, however, the two are 
entirely different: the X-ray mirror is a set of 
nested cylinders. The AXAF telescope is an 
enlarged, improved model of the HEAO-2 graz- 
ing incidence mirror system, with much greater 
accuracy. Marshall laboratories (jointly with 
Perkin-Elmer and Itek) are engaged in a 
Technology Mirror Assembly program to test 
the AXAF high-resolution mirror concept using 
the X-ray calibration facility. 

Although the AXAF has not yet received 
funding for development, it has been desig- 
nated the highest priority astrophysics observ- 
atory by the National Academy of Sciences. An 
X-ray telescope gives access to violent, high- 
energy phenomena associated with the evolu- 
tion of the universe. The Advanced X-Ray 
Astrophysics Facility is the next step in NASA's 
trend toward long-lived observatories for inves- 
tigations across the spectrum. 

Space science leads us 
from mystery to discovery 
and understanding of the 

Advanced Solar Observatory, proposed new 
eye on the sun 

f New Solar Observatories 

Two new solar observatories are being plannec 
at the Center for eventual installation on the 
Space Station. Flight experiments in solar 
observation and imaging may be expanded 
and combined to form a Pinhole Occulter 
Facility and an Advanced Solar Observatory. 
Both observatories offer long-term, highly 
accurate operations of complementary instru- 
ments for a coordinated study of the sun 
across the electromagnetic spectrum. A 
Solar-Terrestrial Observatory also is being 
planned to help understand the complex inter- 
actions between the sun and Earth, particularly 
their effects on long-term trends in weather 
and climate. These proposed new observato- 
ries represent an evolution of both Skylab and 
Shuttle/Spacelab science. In the future, they 
may serve solar science as Space Telescope 
and AXAF serve astronomy and astrophysics. 

fSpacelab Investigations and 
Other Experiments 

Over the years, Marshall Center scientists and 
engineers have spawned a multitude of sci- 
ence and technology experiments for flights on 
aircraft, balloons, rockets, or spacecraft. At any 
one time, about 50 such projects are under 
way at the Center, and a chronology of these 

Launch of balloon-borne astronomical 
telescope from Redstone Airfield 


11 Cloud physics research 
' Hj aboard NASA's KC-135 

mi crogravity research aircraft 

Preparation of the Spacelab 2 
infrared Telescope 

achievements would easily fill another volume. 
Rather than a comprehensive history of all 
flight experiments, a summary of recent high- 
lights suggests the variety of research pro- 
grams and flight opportunities that attract and 
occupy many of Marshall's experts in the sci- 
ence disciplines. 

These flight experiments arise from many 
laboratory disciplines within the Center, with 
the heaviest concentration in the Space 
Science Laboratory. As more and more experi- 
ments are developed for flight aboard the 
Shuttle and Spacelab, Marshall's own scien- 
tists are "customers" for the Center's mission 
management service. Marshall people also 
serve as co-investigators for many experi- 
ments on spacecraft developed or managed 

In astrophysics, scientists here are still 
immersed in HEAO data analysis and in sci- 
ence planning for the AXAF. Additionally, the 
Center has mission management responsibili- 
ties for three Shuttle flights of the Astro ultra- 
violet observatory and is developing a special 
wide field camera as part of that payload. 
Marshall also provided flight hardware and test 
services for the Spacelab 2 Infrared Telescope 
(1985). Planning is under way for two new facil- 
ities - a Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and 


Preparing the Geophysical 
Fluid Flow Cell (GFFC) 
experiment for Spacelab 3 

a Coherent System of Modular Imaging Collec- 
tors (COSMIC). The Center also supports 
ongoing balloon flights of gamma ray and 
cosmic ray detectors. One such small payload 
has evolved into a major instrument on the 
Gamma Ray Observatory; Marshall is design- 
ing, building, and testing the Burst and 
Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) in- 
house. Eight BATSE modules for the space- 
craft are being produced by the Marshall princi- 
pal investigator and engineering team. 

The general thrust of atmospheric science 
flight experiments has been to understand nat- 
ural processes, such as circulation and light- 
ning, in Earth's atmosphere. Data from sensors 
at high altitudes are needed to refine concep- 
tual models of the behavior of Earth's environ- 
ment. Ultimately, experiments may lead to 
improved prediction and other practical appli- 
cations. Two experiments with Marshall co- 
investigators recently flew on the Shuttle, a 
Geophysical Fluid Flow Cell on Spacelab 3 
(1985) and an Optical Survey of Lightning on 
several earlier Shuttle missions. 

For a number of years, Marshall scientists 
have been investigating the sun and its influ- 
ence on Earth's magnetosphere and iono- 
sphere. Solar-terrestrial physicists are using 
space as a vast natural laboratory for observa- 

tions and active experiments that stimulate the 
environment to provoke responses similar to 
natural processes. Recent highlights include 
stunning data from Marshall instruments on 
Dynamics Explorer (1981) and other spacecraft 
and from missions with Marshall investigators, 
such as the Solar Maximum Mission (1980) 
and Spacelab 1 (1983). The Center has been 
involved in several Shuttle-borne space 
plasma experiments that have flown and will 
fly again; these include an electron beam 
accelerator (SEPAC), a plasma diagnostics 
satellite (PDP), and an atmospheric imaging 
instrument (AEPI). A variety of sounding 
rocket investigations also have been com- 
pleted. Besides developing instruments for 
many of these projects, the Center's scientists 
are heavily involved in data analysis and publi- 
cation of results. Major scientific contributions 
include new insights into solar flares and mag- 
netic fields and new evidence of the iono- 
sphere as a major plasma source for the 

A new project now under development is a 
tethered satellite to be towed by the Shuttle 
through otherwise inaccessible regions of the 
upper atmosphere. Marshall has project man- 
agement responsibility for this international 
endeavor with the Italian space agency and 

"Banana cell" pattern of fluid motion ob- 
served in GFFC experiment in space 

Monitoring Earth's space plasma 
environment from the Space Shuttle 


Features of Earth's nearby 
space environment revealed 
in data from MSFC 
instrument on Dynamics 
Explorer satellite 

also has principal investigators for two scien- 
tific instruments. The Center will develop the 
tether, a thin cable that can be reeled out to a 
length of 60 miles. In addition to planning the 
science program for tethered experiments, 
Marshall is responsible for a broader tether 
applications in space program. This effort 
involves studies of tethered science platforms 
and tethered transportation related to the 
Space Station. 

Technology flight experiments generally are 
demonstrating new structural concepts. For 
example, a very large, lightweight solar array 
developed at Marshall was structurally and 
dynamically evaluated during a 1984 Shuttle 
mission (OAST-1). The Solar Array Flight 
Experiment demonstrated advanced technol- 
ogy for using the sun's energy in space and for 
remote sensing and dynamic analysis of large 
space structures. Planned technology experi- 
ments include demonstrations of large-scale 
structural assembly and deployable antennas. 
Although the majority of the Center's technol- 
ogy research occurs in laboratories on the 
ground, a growing number of Marshall scien- 
tists and engineers are investigators for flight 

"History tells us that it 
pays in unexpected ways 
to attempt to satisfy our 
curiosity about the 

Dr. Eberhard Rees, 1970 

Tethered satellite for exploring hard-to-reach 
regions of the upper atmosphere 

Advanced technology solar 
array tested in space 


*i #ra mm mi.ii 


Using sound waves to suspend a drop in mid-air 

Materials processing - 
basic research and com- 
mercial development of 
new products. 

Removal of solidified metal 
sample after free-fall in 
MSFC's 100-foot drop tube 

ABOVE: Perfecting techniques for casting 
alloys of materials that do not mix naturally 

RIGHT: Hundreds of material samples, some 
provided by Marshall, exposed to the space 

f Materials Processing in Space 

Marshall Space Flight Center has a long tradi- 
tion of microgravity research in materials pro- 
cessing. Exploratory investigations began 
during the Apollo era and were expanded in 
the Skylab research agenda. Early results con- 
firmed that certain processes could be per- 
formed in space and that the resultant 
materials were often superior to those pro- 
duced on the ground. Materials processing in 
space looked promising as a technique for 
basic research and as a project for commercial 
development. Today, materials processing is 
one of the major activities proposed for the 
Space Station and could well represent a signif- 
icant expansion in the commercial use of 
space. This would be a major new phase in the 
nation's space program. The Marshall Center 
has been assigned a leading role in the Mate- 
rials Processing in Space program. 

From modest beginnings, Marshall scien- 
tists learned valuable lessons in equipment 
design and processing techniques. Since no 
one knew just how the processing of materials 
would be affected by the low gravity of orbit, 
there was a great deal of trial and error and 
modifying early experiments for reflight. 
Marshall was involved in the development of 
microgravity furnaces, levitation devices for 
containerless processing, and electrophoretic 
(fluid separation) devices for biological pro- 
cessing from the outset, with first flight of such 
devices on the Apollo 14 mission. 

Marshall also plunged into the effort to 
build up a data base of ground-based research 


to guide and compare with space experiments. 
During the 1970s many experiments were con- 
ducted in the Center's laboratories, a drop 
tower and tube on a rocket test stand, and 
NASA's KC-135 aircraft. In the few seconds of 
near weightlessness that could be achieved, 
scientists gained valuable insights into the pro- 
cesses of crystal growth, solidification, and 
containerless confinement of materials. For 
eight years, Marshall managed a series of 
Space Processing Applications Rocket (SPAR) 
flights that provided about five minutes of 
microgravity for materials processing 

Now the Shuttle and Spacelab are being 
used to study the effects of gravity on mate- 
rials processing. Marshall has recently devel- 
oped, managed, and flown a reusable 
Materials Experiment Assembly for investiga- 
tions in the growth of high-performance crys- 
tals for semiconductors, the formation of 
unique alloys and glasses, and the preparation 
of very pure materials by containerless pro- 
cessing and ultra-high vacuum processing 
techniques. In a joint endeavor arrangement 
pioneered and managed by the Marshall 
Center, NASA and private enterprise are work- 
ing as partners to do research in fluid separa- 
tion. Orbital tests of the Shuttle-borne 
Continuous Flow Electrophoresis System 
developed by McDonnell Douglas for the sepa- 
ration of biological materials such as blood 
cells and enzymes, indicate that processing in 
space is more efficient than processing on the 
ground. Another research project already has 
demonstrated commercial value; the Monodis- 
perse Latex Reactor, developed by scientists 
from Lehigh University and the Center, has 
been successfully operated on the Shuttle. Its 
products, extremely uniform latex spheres, are 
now available for the commercial market as 
laboratory calibration standards. Besides 
developing experiments, Marshall scientists 
perform extensive postflight laboratory evalua- 
tions of the various materials processed in 

The microgravity research that began on 
Apollo, Skylab, and rocket flights, has evolved 
into a Marshall Center specialty with great 
potential not only for improved knowledge but 
also for commercial development in space. 
NASA has formally established a Materials 
Processing in Space program to encourage 
the academic and industrial research commu- 
nities to make use of the space environment. 
The near-term goals are establishment of 
national and international microgravity science 

laboratories in space. Marshall is already 
involved in cooperative projects with industrial 
partners for microgravity flight experiments 
and facilities. 

The longer-term goal is a permanent facil- 
ity for commercial uses of space to solve 
important scientific and technical problems. In 
the microgravity environment, scientists can 
study basic properties of materials to better 
understand and control processes on Earth. 
These microgravity services are comparable to 
biomedical laboratory services on the ground. 
Space may prove to be an economically favor- 
able production site; the market success of the 
first materials manufactured in space, the 
monodisperse spheres, is now being tested. 

A vigorous Materials Processing in Space 
program is being pursued. The Marshall 
Center is playing an important role as NASA 
and the world prepare for the commercial uses 
of space. 




LO ^M 

Irregular latex spheres pro- 
duced on the ground 

Uniform latex spheres produced in space 

A large and nearly flawless mercury-iodide 
crystal produced in space for potential uses 
on Earth 


Pushing technology beyond present limits 

f Research and Technology 

A very important portion of the Marshall 
Center's work unfortunately attracts little public 
notice because it does not directly culminate in 
launches and flights. This is the work of scien- 
tists and engineers engaged in research and 
technology in the Center's diverse laboratories. 
These people address fundamental prohlems 
to advance the state of the art and the state of 
knowledge in their disciplines. Some of the 
most interesting history of the Center lies in 
their unrelenting efforts to understand nature. 

Although this aspect of Marshall's activity is 
less visible to the public than hardware prod- 
ucts, within the scientific and technical com- 
munity the Center's cells of excellence are well 
known. Marshall's achievements in research 
and technology have been recognized as sub- 
stantial contributions to knowledge and to 
progress within the space program. Further- 
more, industry has made practical applications 
of many of these advances. Although the 
Center's accomplishments in research and 
technology merit a comprehensive historical 
survey, a review of some recent efforts may 
suggest the vigor and variety of Marshall's 
assault on the unknown. 

In atmospheric science, researchers are 
involved in theoretical modeling to understand 
the environment. They attempt to extract from 
physical laws and observational data the 
explanations for natural processes, such as 
atmospheric turbulence, wind shear, circulation 
patterns, cloud formation, and severe storms. 
This work is relevant to understanding Earth's 
environment and other planetary atmospheres 
as well. 

In astrophysics, researchers analyze and 
interpret data to understand celestial phenom- 
ena. Their work involves theoretical modeling 
as they try to answer basic questions about 
the universe: for example, what are black 
holes? By what process do quasars become 
the most powerful known sources of energy? 
Astrophysics research also involves the per- 
fection of detectors to extend the range of 
observation to greater distances and sensitivi- 
ties. Significant laboratory effort is devoted to 
the search for improved telescope materials 
and observational techniques. 

Solar and magnetospheric physicists 
develop models of the sun, magnetosphere, 
and upper atmosphere to understand better 
the composition, density, temperature, and 
other features of these complex environments. 
Enigmatic solar flares are being investigated 
with data from the Center's vector magneto- 
graph facility, the only one of its kind in the 

Studying the sun from the 
Marshall Center's observatory 





Inventive research in Marshall's laboratories 

"As we identify needs that 
can be met through the use 
of space, or space tech- 
nology, we will move to 
meet them." 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

Analyzing data in quest of discovery 

Subjecting materials to the rigors of space 

Scrutinizing materials to prevent failures 



world, along with corollary data from other 
ground observatories and spacecraft. Interest 
in spacecraft charging and electrodynamic 
interactions between space plasma and other 
moving bodies has stimulated laboratory anal- 
yses. Furthermore, Marshall has developed a 
much-needed computer-linked data network to 
facilitate the sharing of space science informa- 
tion by scientists around the country. 

Basic technology studies at the Center 
span virtually all the disciplines of engineering 
and materials science. Past breakthroughs in 
cryogenics, electronics, materials, and other 
technologies are mentioned throughout this 
text. Technology advances have always been 

"Man's destiny lies in the 
exploration of space. It is 
the leading edge of our 
technology and from it 
already there have been 
many down-to-earth 
benefits in addition to the 
long range potential that 
awaits us in those distant 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, 1967 

the enabling agents that turn goals and 
requirements into reality. 

Many current laboratory projects are 
directly related to the ongoing effort to improve 
the already reliable Space Shuttle, while oth- 
ers are longer-term studies to enable technol- 
ogy for future spacecraft. Diverse studies in 
propulsion technology, for example, include 
investigations of ignition and combustion pro- 
cesses, turbopump bearings and seals, nozzle 
materials, cryogenics, characteristics of pro- 
pellants and materials, and powder metallurgy 
techniques. As a result, the design and opera- 
tion of some Space Shuttle Main Engine com- 
ponents have been optimized, and uprated 
engines are now in service. Novel solar arrays 
and power system components are being stud- 
ied for possible use on the Space Station. The 
Center has made strides in welding technology 
and robots that are of significant benefit to 
industry. Marshall scientists are engaged in 
many investigations of polymers, composites, 
ablatives, ceramics and coatings, lubricants 
and thin films. For many of these investiga- 
tions, Center personnel also develop novel test 
equipment and test facilities, mathematical 
models, computer codes, and data bases. 

As the Center moves into the Space 
Station era, it is investigating large space 
structures technology and operations. This 
multi-disciplinary effort involves evaluation of 
structural elements and materials, thermal 
control, dynamics, robotics and teleoperation, 
and crew systems for large platforms and 
antennas to be erected in space. The large 
space structures technology development pro- 
gram is intended to ensure that resources are 
available to meet future mission needs. 

The Marshall Center has maintained a spe- 
cial technology utilization program to share the 
benefits of space technology with industry and 
public services. To date, several technology 
transfers in materials, electronics, pumps and 
valves have resulted in new products in the 
marketplace. Unusual spinoffs from Marshall 
technology include biomedical devices, energy 
conservation techniques, and fire fighting 
equipment. For several years, the Center 
played a leading role in national solar heating 
and cooling programs to develop and demon- 
strate solar energy systems and to stimulate 
their use. Marshall also investigated the adap- 
tation of space technology for mineral extrac- 
tion techniques in coal mining. Marshall 
actively pursues a variety of technology utiliza- 
tion projects that apply space technology to 
meet new commercial needs. 

Down-to-Earth application of space technology for mining industry 


ABOVE: Spacesuit 
technology to benefit 
LEFT: Practical spin- 
off from NASA's pump 

Working with students to develop experiments for spaceflight 

}Leqacies in Space Science 
and Technology 

The litany of benefits from space science and 
technology is familiar: miniaturized electronics, 
solid state circuitry, insulation materials such 
as spray-foam and mylar foil, new plastics, 
new welding techniques, worldwide communi- 
cation networks, freeze-dried foods, and many 
other products that have been marketed with 
success. These spin-offs have markedly 
changed the way people live, but they are by 
no means the only legacies. The intellectual 
benefit of space research is the primary leg- 
acy; people now know much more about mate- 
rials, processes, Earth, and the stars. The 
space program has opened them all to 

Two themes run through the Marshall 
Center's history in space science and technol- 
ogy: using space for research and developing 
improved means of doing that research. From 
rather modest early experiments to sophisti- 
cated observatories and instruments on the 
Space Shuttle, Marshall has earned impres- 
sive credentials. 

Among the most exciting scientific achieve- 
ments of this Center was the Skylab Apollo 
Telescope Mount, which completely altered our 
understanding of the sun. Previously thought 
to be rather steady and calm except for peri- 
odic bursts of sunspot activity, the sun was 
revealed to be violently changeable over the 
course of hours or minutes. Scientists saw 
intriguing new phenomena, such as coronal 
holes, and witnessed scores of explosive 
flares. The program was a technical, scientific, 
and managerial success that demonstrated 
the value of a concerted assault on a particular 
scientific problem. The nine-month collection 
of Skylab solar data provided grist for analysis 
for almost a decade until a new solar observa- 
tory was placed in orbit. 

The complex environment 
of our planet 

Learning how to 
harness solar energy 



The dynamic sun 

Similarly, the three HEAO missions pro- 
vided a radically new view of the high-energy 
universe, punctuated by exploding stars and 
galaxies and permeated with radiation of mys- 
terious origin. The HEAO surveys increased 
the catalogs of known high-energy sources 
many-fold and, like Skylab, provided enough 
data for years of analysis. The successor 
observatory, if approved for flight, is still sev- 
eral years from launch. 

Another Marshall Center legacy is mate- 
rials processing in space. Research here has 
demonstrated the advantages of microgravity 
for certain processes in crystal growth and 
alloy formation. Largely as a result of this 
work, space processing of materials appears 
to be a very promising, and commercially via- 
ble, new field. Microgravity research on or near 
the Space Station will focus on understanding 
and improving industrial processes on Earth, 
as well as processing products in space for 
use on the ground. 

The Center's technology efforts enable the 
successful science and engineering programs. 
When programs require special thermal coat- 

The mysteries of the universe 

The commercial 
uses of space 

ings or cryogenic fuels or ample power sup- 
plies or large but lightweight structures or high 
data rate telemetry or defect-free welds or zero 
heat leakage, the laboratories meet the chal- 
lenge. Much of this technology passes on to 
industry for other applications. 

A special benefit of the Center's technology 
efforts is the recent progress in productivity 
enhancement. As part of an economic drive 
throughout the agency and the federal govern- 
ment, Marshall has established a Productivity 
Enhancement Center to identify cost-saving 
improvements in programs. To date, significant 
savings have been realized by implementing 
such improvements. 

In many of these research efforts, Marshall 
has developed partnerships with universities 
and private industry. These partners have con- 
tributed significantly to the Center's advances 
in science and technology. For the larger sci- 
ence projects, the Center has used task teams 
to organize early planning and development 
activities. The resultant contracting and man- 
agement techniques have brought to fruition a 
great variety of research projects. 

The science and engineering laboratories 
have always been one of Marshall Space 
Flight Center's greatest assets. During the 
1970's, the Center's growing involvement in 
space science research spawned a host of 
specialized facilities within the existing labs. 
The breadth and depth of expertise here now 
may be unsurpassed by any other single 
research institution. As a result of this resident 
technical competence, Marshall has evolved 
into a highly-respected multidisciplinary 
research center. 

|A Glimpse of the Future 

Now that people have crossed the border into 
space, there is no turning back. We have only 
begun to observe and explore the universe, 
and human curiosity demands more. Inexora- 
bly science and technology will move into 
space, because it is a uniquely favorable envi- 
ronment for research. 

Space is an excellent vantage point for 
both astronomical and terrestrial observations, 
and the effects of gravity are negligible there. 
Thus, space offers opportunities to answer 
questions and do experiments that are impos- 
sible on Earth. The temptation is irresistible. 

In the few years since space has become 
accessible, there has been a veritable explo- 
sion of knowledge. Whole new disciplines, 
such as X-ray astrophysics and solar-terres- 
trial physics, were born, and with each new 


instrument or spacecraft the pace of discovery 
quickens. Who can guess what discoveries are 
yet to be made? 

One can predict that in the next 25 years, 
the growth of knowledge will be even more 
phenomenal. If there were only one major new 
telescope, for example, the advance would be 
significant, but entire families of space tele- 
scopes are planned. What does it really mean 
to look 7 times farther at much dimmer objects 
than now possible? What will we see? 

As observations are perfected along the 
spectrum from radio emissions to infrared, visi- 
ble light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays, 
what will we find? Something stranger than 
black holes and quasars? The edge of the 
universe? Signs of intelligent life somewhere 
else? By placing sensitive telescopes and 
observers above the hazy atmosphere that 
obscures our view outward, we take the risk of 
discovering far more than we have expected. 
Unimagined discoveries resulted from our first 
tentative steps in space; that trend should con- 
tinue, becoming even more dramatic, as we 
establish a permanent presence in space. 

We are just beginning to look back upon 
Earth with the precise scientific tools and tech- 
niques that reveal the distant universe in detail. 
Viewed from space, Earth's atmosphere is 
thin, complex, dynamic, influenced by radiation 
from remote quarters. What surprises may 
shake our comfortable familiarity with the ter- 
restrial environment, which we have barely 
begun to understand? 

The advantage of microgravity is equally 
tantalizing. In space it is possible to examine 
fundamental biological and physical processes 
under conditions that cannot be achieved on 
Earth. In space, living organisms can be stud- 
ied apart from the influence of gravity to under- 
stand just how it is that life functions, and 
sometimes malfunctions, on Earth. Likewise, 
inanimate processes can be observed without 
the interference of gravity to understand the 
properties and behavior of matter or to test 
physical laws. 

Three decades ago, no one knew whether 
or not a human being could survive in space. 
No one knew how fluids, whether blood or pro- 
pellants, behaved in weightlessness. No one 
knew about quasars and exotic celestial 
objects, or about the Van Allen radiation belts 
and the Earth's magnetosphere. 

Although many questions have been 
answered, even more have been raised. 
Today's space scientists at Marshall are chal- 
lenged to find answers. They have the oppor- 

"With the great tasks before 
us, there is a continuing 
need for scientists and 
engineers dedicated to 
giving man the means for 
reaching the stars." 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

tunity to pursue their research in space, either 
by controlling sophisticated instruments from 
the ground or by actually working in an orbital 
laboratory. The rewards of orbital research 
undoubtedly will increase with advances in 
data and communications technology, making 
today's flood of information look like a mere 

Science and technology move in parallel, 
one asking questions and the other providing 
ways to answer them. Today's questions are 
beginning to be answered with the aid of new 
instruments and spacecraft. Tomorrow's ques- 
tions will emerge as the remarkable new 
space observatories and laboratories become 
operational. The "book of knowledge" will not 
close any time soon. The challenge now is to 
continue the quest for knowledge with all avail- 
able, and all imaginable, resources. ■ 

Space - laboratory and 
observatory site for 
the future 



esides launch 
vehicles and 
space science 
research, Marshall 
Space Flight Center 
has a distinguished 
record of achieve- 
ment in the devel- 
opment of manned 
systems, the astro- 
nauts' work places in 
space. Since Apollo, NASA has sponsored the 
very successful Skylab and Spacelab pro- 
grams that demonstrated how readily and pro- 
ductively people can live and work in space. 
Marshall played the leading project manage- 
ment and engineering role for the agency in 
these ventures, thereby developing capabilities 
unforeseen in the Saturn era. Marshall also 
was involved in smaller scale manned projects, 
such as the Lunar Roving Vehicle and the 
nternational Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. 

As the Center celebrates its twenty-fifth 
anniversary, the most challenging new pro- 
gram is the development of a Space Station, a 
permanent manned habitat in Earth orbit. 
Within the agency, industry, and the scientific 
community, both in the United States and 
abroad, there is a flurry of activity to define 
Space Station architecture, capabilities, and 
uses. A casual observer might think, mistak- 
enly, that this initiative really is new, that 
designers and engineers, scientists and man- 
agers are starting from scratch to formulate a 
residence in space. Actually, many people at 
Marshall already are veterans in Space Station 

The concept of a space station is older 
than NASA itself. To the early rocket pioneers, 
a space workshop or colony was a major rea- 
son for developing launch vehicles. Early in the 
space program, a space station was consid- 
ered to be a feasible goal to pursue immedi- 
ately after the Apollo program. Skylab thus 
evolved as the first space station, a temporary 


precursor to a permanent presence. About 
1970, however, NASA decided to postpone 
construction of a permanent space station until 
a suitable space transportation system was in 

In the interim, the Shuttle could serve as a 
short-term space station by carrying a scientific 
research facility, Spacelab, on missions of a 
week or more. Like Skylab, Spacelab is a valu- 
able preparation for a permanent space sta- 
tion; experience in hardware development and 
human engineering for these work environ- 
ments in space is directly applicable to a 
larger-scale effort. When President Ronald 
Reagan approved Space Station development 
in 1984, NASA responded quickly and 

The Space Station is the next logical step 
in the exploration and utilization of space. 
Marshall Space Flight Center has responsibility 
for definition and preliminary design of several 
major elements of the prospective Space 
Station and is also supporting development of 
some elements managed through other NASA 
centers. As it addresses these new challenges, 
Marshall will draw from its bank of past experi- 
ence in manned systems. For the foreseeable 
future, the Center's primary mission is to 
develop a permanent work place in space. The 
Space Station requires a magnitude of effort 
and commitment to excellence comparable to 
that of the Saturn and Shuttle endeavors. 

fLunar Roving Vehicle 

Marshall moved from launch systems into 
manned systems via a Lunar Roving Vehicle 
designed to transport astronauts and materials 
on the moon. As time drew near for the 
manned lunar landings, NASA decided to pro- 
vide a vehicle that would extend the astro- 
nauts' range of exploration and their ability to 
carry equipment and lunar samples. By 1969, 
Marshall was responsible for the design, devel- 
opment, and testing of the new article. Boeing 
was selected for contract award, and work 
began in 1970 with flight expected the following 

What a contrast the lunar rover was to the 
towering Saturn vehicles! It was a fragile look- 
ing, open-space vehicle about 10 feet long with 
large mesh wheels, antenna appendages, tool 
caddies, and cameras. Powered by two 36 volt 
batteries, it had four Va hp drive motors, one for 
each wheel. The peculiar vehicle was collap- 
sible for compact storage until needed, when it 
could be unfolded by hand. 

Marshall engineers tackled this new project 
with relish; inventing a "car" for drivers on the 
moon was as appealing to a grown-up imagi- 
nation as to a child's. Personnel from the 
Center's laboratories contributed substantially 
to the design and testing of the navigation and 
deployment systems. In fact, the backup man- 
ual deployment system developed by Marshall 
proved more reliable than the automated sys- I 
tern and became the primary method of 

The rover was designed to travel in forward 
or reverse, negotiate obstacles about a foot 
high, cross crevasses about two feet wide, and 
climb or descend moderate slopes; its speed 
limit was about 14 km (9 miles) per hour. To 
assist in development of the navigation sys- 
tem, the Center created a lunar surface simu- 
lator, complete with rocks and craters, where 
operators could test drive the vehicle. The sim- 
ulator also was used during the mission as an 
aid in responding to difficulties. 



Marshall-designed vehicle in use on the moon 

Lunar rover (on support stand) at MSFC 

A lunar rover was used on each of the last 
three Apollo missions in 1971 and 1972 to per- 
mit the crew to travel several miles from the 
landing craft. Outbound, they carried a load of 
experiments to be set up on the moon; on the 
return trip, they carried more than 200 pounds 
of lunar rock and soil samples. The vehicle 
performed safely and reliably on each excur- 
sion and enhanced the astronauts' work effi- 
ciency. It handled as well and steered as 
easily on the moon as on Earth. 

In addition to the technical achievements, 
the lunar rover was a managerial success with 
an unusually short development cycle. More 
than any prior work, this project gave Marshall 
insight into human engineering considerations 
for space hardware on manned missions. 
Although the vehicle was not as complex as a 
habitable laboratory, it was in effect a small 
work place with some similar crew require- 
ments. Thus, the rover project provided valua- 
ble crew systems and mission support 
experience for later projects. During the lunar 
rover work, the Center also used realistic new 
simulation techniques for testing equipment 
and procedures. Simulation would soon be 
used extensively for design evaluation, hard- 
ware checkout, crew training, and mission sup- 
port activities in other manned projects. 


The idea that ultimately became Skylab first 
surfaced in 1962 as a proposal to convert a 
spent Saturn upper stage into an orbital work- 
shop. Soon, planners in Huntsville were evalu- 
ating the feasibility of rendezvous with a cast- 
off stage, which would then be purged, pres- 
surized, and outfitted with scientific equip- 
ment. In 1965, NASA established the Apollo 
Applications Program to extend the use of 
Apollo and Saturn hardware; a few months 
later, the agency authorized a design study for 
a spent stage orbital workshop and named 
Marshall Space Flight Center as leader of the 

For the next three years, Marshall wrestled 
with configuration and planning. Several 
launch schedules were announced for an 
ambitious program of multiple workshop facili- 
ties. In 1968, Marshall proposed an alternative 
to the original "wet" workshop concept of refur- 
bishing a spent stage in orbit; instead, a fully 
equipped "dry" workshop could be launched 
as a complete unit, ready for occupancy. In 
1969, NASA approved this concept and con- 
tracts were revised accordingly. The following 
year, the Apollo Applications Program and 


2-, ffe'w-txtf </** " 

Early concept of Skylab 
workshop with observatory 
on a long cable 

"Instruments continue to 
be indispensable in the 
exploration of space. But 
man has proven himself 

Dr. Wernher von Braun 

Skylab orbital workshop and attached observatory 


Floor plan of Sky lab 

workshop and living 


Saturn workshops were officially renamed 

The eight-year Skylab project was 
Marshall's most comprehensive mission 
involvement to date. The Center was responsi- 
ble for early definition studies, provision of the 
launch vehicles, development of the various 
manned modules, development and assembly 
of the scientific payload, systems engineering 
and integration, development of crew proce- 
dures, and provision of real-time mission sup- 
port. People all around the Center participated 
in Skylab planning, hardware activities, simula- 
tions, and support efforts during the mission. 
Skylab was the largest spacecraft and the 
longest-manned mission in the space program. 
The Center's existing skills were well exercised 
in the Skylab era, and new capabilities grew in 
response to the unusual technical and mana- 
gerial challenges of developing the nation's 
first space station. 

)A Work Place in Space 

The basic elements of Skylab were defined 
fairly early, and some of the units were ready 
for testing when the configuration decision was! 
made in 1969. Skylab was conceived as a clus- 
ter of five modules: an Orbital Workshop, 
Instrument Unit, Airlock Module, Multiple Dock- 
ing Adapter, and Apollo Telescope Mount. The 
cluster was launched by a two-stage Saturn V 
with the workshop itself as a modified third 
stage. Marshall was responsible for the devel- 
opment and integration of all these hardware 
elements and for providing the launch vehicles, 
a Saturn V for Skylab and Saturn IBs for three 
Apollo spacecraft and crews. These vehicles 
were brought out of inventory and refurbished 
for the Skylab missions. 

Marshall worked closely with McDonnell 
Douglas, the prime contractor for the workshop 
unit, to convert a Saturn IVB stage into a habit- 
able module containing crew living quarters 
and support systems as well as some experi- 
ment area. The huge forward tank formerly 
used for liquid hydrogen was partitioned, 
equipped with utilities, and furnished to make 
an area about the size of a five-room house 
where three-member crews could live comfort- 
ably for one to three months. 

Many new devices were developed for the 
comfort and well being of the crew in their 
orbital home. Marshall engineers tackled the 
problems of zero-gravity showers and toilets, 
sleeping bags, exercise equipment, and 
kitchen facilities. They were also involved in 
developing and selecting materials used in 
crew quarters and as protective thermal coat- 
ings; such features as outgassing, contamina- 
tion, toxicity, and flammability were carefully 
evaluated in view of long-term human 

The Instrument Unit, like that on the Saturn 
launch vehicles, provided certain guidance, 
control, and sequencing commands. After 
launch, it was used for deployment of the solar 
arrays mounted on the workshop and for a 
telemetry link between Skylab and the ground. 

The Multiple Docking Adapter was a dock- 
ing facility for the Apollo Command and Ser- 
vice Module, which ferried crews and supplies 
to Skylab. It also served as a passageway to 
the workshop and as a laboratory that con- 
tained most of the experiment equipment and 
the control and display console for the Apollo 
Telescope Mount. Marshall designed and built 
the structure for this unit in-house. 

The Apollo Telescope Mount was an 
observatory housing eight scientific instru- 
ments for detailed study of the sun. The 


Working outside to change film in 
observatory instruments 

Meal time in the Sky lab galley 

observatory was mounted to the docking 
adapter and operated by the crew from a work- 
station there. Marshall built some parts of the 
mount in-house and worked closely with sev- 
eral contractors to develop a very precise atti- 
tude control and pointing system that served 
the telescope and the entire Skylab cluster. 
The Center provided a simulation facility for 
tests of the attitude pointing control system 
hardware and software and for real-time mis- 
sion support. Marshall also supervised sys- 
tems integration of the observatory and its 

Finally, the Airlock Module served as the 
link between the docking adapter and the 
workshop. This module housed the control sys- 
tems for Skylab's utilities - environmental and 
thermal control, power distribution, communi- 
cations and data handling. It also provided the 
hatch, airlock, and equipment for extravehicu- 
lar activity, when crew members went outside 
to change film in the telescope or do other 
maintenance and repair work. McDonnell 
Douglas fabricated the module with close 
Marshall involvement in design, development, 
and test activities. 

To support the hardware development 
effort, Marshall created two full-scale Skylab 
mockups for detailed engineering analyses 
and simulations. A one-g "shirtsleeve" mockup 
resided in Building 4619 and an underwater 
mockup was installed in the Center's new 
Neutral Buoyancy Simulator, a 40-foot deep 
water tank, completed in 1968, where the 
effects of microgravity (weightlessness), could 

"With Skylab we are not 
concerned primarily with 
flying a spacecraft. We are 
concerned with the impor- 
tant aims of living and 
working in Earth orbit and 
conducting the experi- 
ments that will eventually 
lead to many beneficial 

Dr. Eberhard Rees, 1970 

A shower in space 



be simulated. For several years, these two 
mockups became the focus for manned sys- 
tems test activities, and they were visited 
repeatedly by astronauts. In 1969, the Center 
began neutral buoyancy simulations of Skylab 
extravehicular activity; these practice sessions 
tested tools and procedures for maintenance 
and repair tasks associated with the Apollo 
Telescope Mount. In 1970, the Center hosted a 
week-long crew station review by astronaut 
teams using both mockups. 




iX N > 

Practicing film change-out underwater at MSFC 

By the time of launch in May of 1973, 
Marshall people knew Skylab inside and out, 
and they were well prepared to support the 
nine-month mission. Personnel moved into the 
Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) 
for real-time flight support, and mission task 
centers, called "war rooms," were set up in 
Marshall's laboratories to assist the HOSC 
team in resolving any problems that might 
occur in flight. During the three manned 
periods, these support groups were fully 
staffed for around-the-clock operations; in the 
unmanned intervals, a skeleton staff main- 
tained watch. This mission support activity was 
much more extensive than the launch support 
normally provided by the Center and the stand- 
by support during excursions of the Lunar 
Roving Vehicle. To everyone's surprise, 
Marshall's resources for mission support were 
severely tested immediately after launch. 

fQuick Response to a Problem 

Within an hour of launch on May 14, 1973, 
there were ominous signs of trouble aboard 
Skylab. Although the spacecraft had been 
delivered easily to its intended orbit, the micro- 
meteoroid shield/sun shade and solar arrays 
failed to deploy as planned. As a result, the 
Skylab workshop was rapidly heating to intoler- 
able temperatures (almost 200° F) and operat- 
ing on a fraction of the necessary power. 
These conditions threatened disaster to the 
workshop and jeopardized the manned mission 
scheduled for launch the next day. 

Marshall personnel immediately regrouped 
into a crisis management organization to stabi- 
lize the thermal condition of Skylab and to 
develop repairs. The manned mission was 
postponed and for the next 11 days Marshall, 
its contractors, and NASA personnel at other 
centers concentrated on saving Skylab. All the 
resources of the Center were available to the 
ten laboratory task groups already in existence 
and to the various ad hoc groups formed in 
response to the crisis. Technical and manage- 
rial personnel shifted to 12-hour duty cycles, 

Developing a solution to Sky lab's thermal shield problem 


and some people worked for days at a time. 

The mission support teams faced three 
major problems and a host of smaller ones 
caused by the failures. The most urgent matter 
requiring immediate attention was the over- 
heating problem. Attitude control and thermal 
experts had to find a rapid solution to reorient 
Skylab and establish a better thermal balance. 
They were hampered, of course, by the need 
to keep the functional solar arrays of the Apollo 
Telescope Mount pointed at the sun. In the first 
hours of the crisis, they experimented with var- 
ious maneuvers to shade the workshop but 
maintain the limited power supply. Before long, 
they were able to implement a satisfactory 
solution that preserved Skylab until the rescue 
crew arrived on May 25. 

The next major problem was to determine 
the extent of damage on Skylab and devise 
corrective repair operations. Virtually every ele- 
ment of the Marshall Center, with hearty sup- 
port from the other NASA centers, became 
involved in an intense effort to fix Skylab. Data 
analysis suggested that the micrometeoroid 
shield and one solar array had been ripped off 
during launch and that the second solar array 
was tangled up in debris and only partially 
deployed. Since the exact condition of these 
elements was unknown, engineers had to rely 
on calculations and simulations to estimate the 
nature of the problem and the best solution. 

Over the next several days, Marshall con- 
sidered a variety of repair options, discarding 
some and pursuing others under tremendous 
time pressure. Eventually, three methods were 
developed, tested, rehearsed, and approved. 
Marshall was intensely involved in all three - a 
parasol sunshade, a twin-pole sunshade, and 
a set of metal cutting tools for freeing the 
jammed solar array - but had the lead role in 
developing the tools and the twin-pole sun- 
shade, a large protective sail. 

Designing the hardware and crew proce- 
dures, demonstrating the method, and fabricat- 
ing the equipment occupied hundreds of 
people for more than a week. Everything about 
the effort was a challenge under duress. Not 
only must it be the most practical solution to 
the thermal problem but also it must survive 
structural and dynamic stresses, stand up to 
intense solar radiation, meet stringent crew 
safety requirements, be compact and light- 
weight, and be available as soon as possible. 
What would normally be months of effort was 
condensed into a few days. 

Devising tools and procedures to release 
the jammed solar array also provoked a flurry 

Testing the twin-pole 
sunshade at the Skylab 
mockup in Building 4619 

"In my opinion, the finest 
accomplishment of Skylab 
was the demonstration of 
the uniqueness of man in 
space in solving problems 
and overcoming obstacles 
in the face of extreme 

Dr. Rocco Petrone 

Refining the repair procedures underwater in 
Marshall's Neutral Buoyancy Simulator 



of activity. Again the engineers who could not 
"see" the problem had to solve it by the safest, 
most practical methods. Standard off-the-shelf 
shears and saws were modified and tested for 
anticipated use. 

The third major problem was degradation 
of the interior environment of the workshop, 
an unknown factor of great concern for crew 
safety. The prolonged, extraordinary heating 
of the module might have caused interior insu- 
lation and adhesives to deteriorate and 
release toxic gases. Marshall's materials sci- 
entists undertook a thorough evaluation of this 
potential problem and worked with other sys- 
tems engineers to define purge procedures for 
the habitable module. Even as they were test- 
ing the materials for outgassing, this group 
was also embroiled in testing various candi- 
date sunshade materials. 

During the Skylab crisis, Marshall's many 
human and physical resources were admira- 
bly demonstrated. The Neutral Buoyancy Sim- 
ulator was a special asset that proved its 
worth as a test environment again and again. 
Trial runs underwater revealed a number of 
difficulties and led to speedy recognition of 
more effective solutions. Experts around the 
Center - in the laboratories, machine shops, 
and management offices - and from 
Marshall's contractors united in a multidiscipli- 

nary team response to the emergency. Morale 
remained high despite the taxing work 

The Skylab crew and their repair kits were 
launched just 11 days after the incident. After 
docking with Skylab, the crew successfully 
deployed the parasol sunshade through an 
airlock the next day and, as the temperature 
dropped, began to activate the new space sta- 
tion. The interior environment proved safe and 
contamination-free, though still a rather warm 
work place. On the ground, Marshall's teams 
continued to perfect techniques for the major 
repairs. In a daring though well-rehearsed 
maneuver, the solar array was freed on June 7 
by the crew working outside Skylab with a 
technique developed at Marshall. After that 
the Skylab mission settled into a fairly nominal 
routine, much as planned. 

The parasol sunshade proved effective for 
the first manned period on Skylab but had to 
be replaced by the Marshall sail during the 
second occupancy because interior tempera- 
ture was increasing again. During the interval 
between missions, Marshall engineers and 
NASA astronauts practiced and improved the 
repair technique during frequent neutral buoy- 
ancy simulations. More than any other pro- 
gram, the successful Skylab recovery 
operations clearly demonstrated the value of 
manned space flight. 

f Skylab Legacies 

Skylab was the first American space program 
wholly dedicated to scientific research. Con- 
ceived as a laboratory for simultaneous 
research in several disciplines, Skylab contrib- 
uted to solar physics, astronomy, biomedical 
science, materials science, Earth observa- 
tions, and basic technology. Marshall played 
an important part in this unprecedented scien- 
tific venture, both before the mission by man- 
aging the development and integration of the 
experiments and later by supporting their 
operations in flight. 

Skylab operated in orbit from May 1973 
through February 1974. It was occupied for 
three periods for a total of 171 days. During 
that time, the advantages of doing research in 
space with a very capable scientific crew were 
convincingly demonstrated. Skylab results 
included significant discoveries in all the 
experiment disciplines and far more data than 
anticipated. Solar observations revealed 
unsuspected features and events, dramati- 
cally altering our understanding of the sun's 
structure and activity. Skylab offered the first 
opportunity for a sustained investigation of the 

Marshall's Skylab solar shield installed in space 


human body in space; a plethora of biomedi- 
cal experiments and measurements provided 
new insight into physiological adaptation to 
weightlessness. The first set of materials pro- 
cessing experiments in space produced intri- 
guing results on crystal growth, solidification 
of alloys, and fluid behavior in microgravity. 
The Earth resources observations produced 
detailed new information from the unique van- 
tage point of space by a variety of remote sen- 
sing techniques, and astronomical 
observations also were successful. Skylab 
opened the era of comprehensive scientific 
research in space. 

Skylab also proved the operational con- 
cepts for long-term habitation in space and 
particularly demonstrated how capably and 
productively people could work in this new 
environment. It also demonstrated the value of 
a human presence for maintenance and repair 
to extend the useful life of systems in space. 
The orbital servicing and repair activities gave 
new insight into both design and operational 
considerations for future missions. 

For Marshall and for NASA at large, 
Skylab represented a transition from short 
manned flights to long-term manned orbital 
operations and from single-purpose space- 
craft to multipurpose space stations. The 
Marshall Center developed strong new capa- 
bilities for science payloads and mission sup- 
port operations. After Skylab was vacated, it 
remained in orbital stowage for several years 
in anticipation of future visits. Instead of 
returning to Skylab, however, NASA pursued 
its direct descendant - Spacelab - a Shuttle- 
borne research facility. Marshall was destined 
to play an even greater role in this new 

In the interim between the two manned 
laboratory projects, Marshall was preoccupied 
with various scientific projects and with adjust- 
ing to manpower and budget cuts. The unu- 
sual Apollo-Soyuz Test Project bridged the 
period between Skylab and Spacelab. 

Maintenance and repair 
tasks outside the workshop 

Microgravity research inside 
the orbital laboratory 

Skylab Earth resources 
observations (infrared 
image of the lower 
Mississippi River) 

Crystal growth and materials processing 
research on Skylab missions 


)Apollo-Soyuz Test Project 

The period between the last Skylab mission 
(1973/74) and the first Shuttle flight (1981) was 
a quiet one for manned spaceflight. Only one 
manned mission was launched - the Apollo- 
Soyuz Test Project in 1975. This mission 
marked both the last use of a Saturn launch 
vehicle and the first cooperative, international 
manned flight. The purpose of the mission 
was to demonstrate rendezvous and docking 
for joint ventures in space. This capability 
might eventually be used for international res- 
cue missions and for mutually beneficial sci- 
ence and engineering activities. Marshall 
Space Flight Center participated in preparing 
for this historic mission. 

Overtures toward a joint American-Soviet 
mission were made in 1968, followed by talks 
between representatives of both space agen- 
cies over the next few years. Marshall person- 
nel served on the American delegation that 
met with Soviet personnel in the United States 
and in Moscow. In 1970, two Soviet cosmo- 
nauts visited the Center on a tour of NASA 
facilities. At a 1972 summit meeting, President 
Richard Nixon and Premier Alexei Kosygin 
signed a five-year cooperative agreement and 
set a target mission date in mid-1975. 

The major challenge of the Apollo-Soyuz 
Test Project was to make two quite different 
space systems compatible enough to link up 
in orbit. This required design of a common 
docking adapter to join the two spacecraft and 
enable crew members to move from one mod- 
ule to the other for their "handshake in 
space." Coordination of rendezvous guidance 
systems and flight techniques also was 

Although there had been early considera- 
tion of a Skylab-Soyuz mission, which would 
have meant heavy Marshall Center involve- 
ment, the final decision was to dock with an 
Apollo spacecraft. Thus, Marshall's primary 
role was to provide the launch vehicle. A 
Saturn IB that had spent more than five years 
in storage was refurbished and performed 
flawlessly. The Center also provided several of 
the scientific experiments and a Multipurpose 
Electric Furnace similar to one flown on 
Skylab for processing material samples. 

The test project successfully demonstrated 
the new docking capability, but there were no 
subsequent missions. NASA's next interna- 
tional venture was with colleagues in Western 
Europe rather than the Soviet Union. 

Apollo-Soyuz: historic 
handshake in space 

Concept of the rendezvous of American and 
Soviet spacecraft 

First international meeting 
in space 



In 1969, Europe was invited by the United 
States to participate in the post-Apollo space 
program. The European Space Research 
Organization, which later became the Euro- 
pean Space Agency (ESA), agreed in 1973 to 
develop a manned laboratory as Europe's 
contribution to the new Space Transportation 
System. What became Spacelab was con- 
ceived originally at Marshall as a "sortie can," 
a modular laboratory system to be periodically 
installed in the Space Shuttle for week-long 
science missions. A handful of selected NASA 
engineers from the Marshall Center interacted 
with the Europeans to initiate the Sortie Can 
program, later named Spacelab. The work of 
this small group established an important link 
for international space programs. The result- 
ant Spacelab program was a cooperative ven- 
ture between ESA and NASA; the European 
Space Agency designed and manufactured 
Spacelab with NASA's support in design and 
design requirements, and NASA now operates 
it on Shuttle missions. 

In the busy period of development 
between the 1973 decision and the first 
Spacelab flight in 1983, Marshall Space Flight 
Center assumed program management 
responsibilities for monitoring and supporting 
the ESA activity; developing related flight 
equipment, software, and ground support 
facilities; and directing the first missions. For 
the better part of a decade, the Center's 
resources were enlisted in the related 
Spacelab and Shuttle projects. While hard- 
ware development was in progress, NASA 
and ESA engaged in a parallel activity of 
developing the first Spacelab payload; experi- 
ments and crew members for the initial mis- 
sion were provided by both agencies. 
Between 1972 and 1977, the two partners con- 
ducted a joint airborne program, a trial run 
called ASSESS, to work out their mission 
management and operational concepts. Fur- 
thermore, Marshall began planning ahead to 

i subsequent missions. 

Technically, scientifically, and managerially, 
the Spacelab program broke new ground in 
international cooperation for manned space- 

' flight. The Marshall Center successfully man- 
aged this largest-ever program of shared 

| responsibilities. Although the development 
effort and first missions are now history, 
Spacelab continues to be a major commit- 
ment at Marshall as Spacelab is used again 
and again for research in space. 

Pallet-mounted Instrument Pointing System, first used on Spacelab 2 mission 

Spacelab components: 

tunnel, enclosed laboratory 

module, and exposed 

platform (pallet) 

Concept verification testing of Spacelab 
materials science experiments in MSFC's 
General Purpose Laboratory 


Spacelab payload integration for several missions at the Cape 

I \ I \/i 

Spacelab 1 module and pallet ready to be installed in the Shuttle 

fDeveloping Spacelab 

Although ESA bore primary responsibility for 
designing and manufacturing Spacelab, 
Marshall's role as the lead NASA center 
required broad participation in all technical 
and managerial activities. The international 
scope of the program was unprecedented; 50 
manufacturing firms in 10 European countries 
contributed to Spacelab, and several different 
space organizations affiliated with ESA across 
Europe were involved in the program. The 
challenge of cohesively managing such a 
widespread effort was formidable. 

NASA and Marshall worked closely with 
ESA at all levels, and several key members of 
Marshall's staff worked on-site in Europe to 
participate in integration and test activities 
there. In the course of this ambitious effort, 
new management techniques were devised to 
control schedules, resources, and costs. The 
international character of the Spacelab pro- 
gram introduced unusual administrative, fiscal, 
and technical factors; for example, relatively 
straightforward matters, such as tracking 
costs or documenting engineering changes, 
were complicated by national differences in 
currency and accounting practices, language 
and reporting style. 

In addition to its program management 
responsibilities, Marshall was tasked with 
developing related hardware. As usual, this 
effort utilized the Center's proficiency in many 
engineering disciplines. Just as many Saturn 
facilities and personnel were reassigned to the 
Shuttle project, many Skylab resources were 
applied to the Spacelab effort. Marshall peo- 
ple drew upon the Skylab heritage and also 
developed new solutions for a laboratory com- 
patible with the Space Shuttle. In developing 
an optical window for scientific observations, 
for example, they pulled Skylab hardware 
from inventory and adapted it. On the other 
hand, development of a pressurized transfer 
tunnel for the passage of crew and equipment 
between the Orbiter cabin and the laboratory 
module was a wholly new effort. Marshall also 
was responsible for developing experiment 
software, a vertical access kit for entering the 
module on the launch pad, and various avion- 
ics and environmental control subsystems 
components. Furthermore, a special Software 
Development Facility was established to 
develop and verify programs for the Spacelab 
experiment computer. 

One of the most challenging problems in 
Spacelab design was the Command and Data 
Management Subsystem, the centralized con- 
trol and data collection authority. This three- 


computer system is the "bridge" between 
Orbiter resources and individual experiments. 
The system also monitors its own health and 
that of its users, reporting them to the Orbiter 
and to the payload and mission controllers on 
the ground. Because the computer system 
serves two purposes - overall Spacelab sub- 
system management and experiment opera- 
tions - imaginative systems and software 
engineering efforts were necessary. The 
resultant system is flexible enough to handle 
diverse experiment requirements within the 
context of available resources and constraints 
such as power, attitude, and crew time. During 
the first mission, this system responded to 
16,000 commands and a multitude of timeline 
changes yet kept Spacelab and experiment 
operations running smoothly. 

Data transmission also was an engineer- 
ing challenge that was met with state-of-the- 
art hardware design. The High Data Rate 
Multiplexer and High Data Rate Recorder 
have the most interfaces and most complex 
operations in the command and data manage- 
ment subsystem. Both can handle data in a 
range of rates to accommodate widely varying 
types of instruments in different scientific dis- 

ciplines. The multiplexer accepts data from 
experiments, Spacelab systems, and the 
recorder for transmission to the ground at digi- 
tal rates up to 50 million bits per second. 
While running at full speed, the one-inch mag- 
netic tape of the recorder moves at 20 feet per 
second. During the Spacelab 1 mission, this 
system was extraordinarily successful; 
approximately six trillion bits of science data 
were downlinked. 

Spacelab represents a broad cross-section 
of engineering achievements. Virtually every 
discipline at Marshall contributed to the design 
and development of Spacelab. The actual 
Spacelab systems required the talents of 
structural, mechanical, dynamic, electrical, 
hydraulic, metallurgical, chemical, software, 
and systems engineers. The ground support 
facilities involved civil, structural, and mechan- 
ical engineers, with test and checkout equip- 
ment developed by electrical engineers and 
software professionals. Development of 
sophisticated scientific instruments required 
the expertise of electrical, optical, and soft- 
ware specialists. Spacelab demanded the 
coordinated effort of all these Marshall Center 


Spacelab module and tunnel, first used on Spacelab 1 mission 

At work in a new laboratory during the 
Spacelab 1 mission 



fManaging Missions 

Marshall has a continuing role in the Spacelab 
program apart from development of the orbital 
research facility. Through the Spacelab 
Payload Project Office, the Center plans and 
directs a variety of missions. Having managed 
the first three multidisciplinary missions that 
demonstrated alternate Spacelab configura- 
tions, the Center now looks forward to manag- 
ing several series of flights in particular 
research fields, such as astronomy, Earth 
observations, space plasma physics, and 
materials science. The Center provides the 
mission manager, mission scientist, integra- 
tion engineers, and operations personnel for 
these missions. 

The business of Spacelab mission man- 
agement draws upon many of Marshall's skills 

Management conference during Spacelab 2 mission 

in systems engineering and integration at all 
payload levels from individual instruments to 
the mated Shuttle-Spacelab. Center person- 
nel plan the layout, perform systems analyses, 
design and develop integration hardware, 
oversee assembly and checkout, plan the 
flight timeline, conduct simulations and train- 
ing exercises, and provide real-time support 
during the mission. These activities involve 
specialists in many different areas, including 
aeronautical, electronics, software, and 
human factors engineering. Mission manage- 
ment personnel coordinate all these disparate 
activities to ensure that the payload meets the 
scientific goals and uses Shuttle-Spacelab 
resources most effectively. 

To carry out these complex responsibili- 
ties, the Center developed some novel meth- 
ods and facilities. One of the most successful 
is the Payload Crew Training Complex (PCTC) 
in Building 4612, which houses a computer- 
ized Spacelab simulator that can be custom- 
ized for different missions. This facility is a 
prime training site for Spacelab mission spe- 
cialists from the astronaut corps and payload 
specialists from the scientific community. The 
PCTC is a realistic "classroom" for practicing 
simultaneous in-flight experiment operations, 
problem solving, and maintenance proce- 
dures. Another achievement was Marshall's 
effort in outfitting the Operations and Check- 
out Building at Kennedy Space Center, the 
integration site for Spacelab payloads. Mar- 
shall developed the requirements for the inte- 
gration facility and its automated test and 
checkout equipment. 

Besides overall mission management, 
Marshall scientists and engineers are devising 
experiments for flight opportunities on 
Spacelab. Apparatus and procedures are 
being developed here for investigations in all 
the Center's science disciplines - astrophys- 
ics, atmospheric science, solar-terrestrial 
physics, materials science, and technology. 
The current level of effort is significant and is 
expected to remain so in the future. 

fSpacelab Legacies 

The Spacelab 1 mission, which began on 
November 28, 1983, was a grand success. 
With few anomalies, Spacelab performed just 
as planned and the concept of a system of 
laboratory modules and pallets for research in 
space was verified. All the Spacelab subsys- 
tems were well exercised by the payload of 
over 70 investigations in 5 different disciplines. 
The mission management scheme also was 
verified; the mission progressed so smoothly 
and efficiently that an extra day on orbit was 

Payload Crew Training Complex, where Spacelab crews prepare for missions 


authorized for additional scientific research. 
The value of onboard payload specialists was 
confirmed as scientists on the ground commu- 
nicated frequently and directly with the crew, 
working together as a team on many experi- 
ment operations. 

Almost every investigator has reported sig- 
nificant findings from the first Spacelab mis- 
sion. Materials processing experiments 
produced much larger crystals with fewer 
defects than those produced on Earth. Investi- 
gations in life sciences challenged reigning 
theories about subtle physiological reflexes 
that cannot be tested in normal gravity. 
Exploratory investigations were carried out to 
evaluate the potential of Spacelab for astro- 
nomical observations and plasma physics 
research, with very promising results. Other 
investigations yielded important discoveries 
about the composition of Earth's atmosphere. 
Trials of new Earth observation techniques 
were conducted and showed promise for 
improved mapping and resource monitoring 
from space. Spacelab clearly will serve as an 
important facility for space science research. 

Monitoring crystal growth experiments on 
Spacelab 3 mission 


Marsnal Spacebb 

opmora so 

Managing a Spacelab 
mission from the Payload 
Operations Control Center 

Members of the payload 
operations team on duty 
during Spacelab missions 

ABOVE: Pioneering research in fluid 
dynamics during Spacelab 3 mission 

LEFT: Payload operations conference during 
the Spacelab 3 mission 



The immediate legacy of Spacelab 1 is 
Spacelab 2 and 3 and a succession of dedi- 
cated discipline missions, such as Astro and 
the Earth Observation Mission, all managed 
by the Marshall Center. The next accomplish- 
ment on the horizon is the opening of a Pay- 
load Operations Control Center (POCC) at 
Marshall for consolidated local operations dur- 
ing Spacelab missions. In the past, Marshall 
personnel have participated in real-time mis- 
sion activities from two locations, a POCC in 
Houston and the Huntsville Operations Sup- 
port Center (HOSC). The new POCC in 
Huntsville will supplement the one at the 
Johnson Space Center for missions managed 
by Marshall. 

By virtue of its Skylab experience, Mar- 
shall Space Flight Center had a head start on 
Spacelab. Yet, Spacelab introduced the new 
challenges of detailed international coopera- 
tion and compatibility with the Space Shuttle. 


This effort was complicated by the fact that 
Spacelab development occurred in parallel 
with Orbiter, payload, communications satel- 
lite, and ground support development. 
Changes in any one element had an impact 
on the others. Spacelab management person- 
nel and their engineering teams met the 
exceptional challenge of keeping Spacelab 
development synchronized with the other 
efforts and responding to changes as they 
arose. Marshall again proved its ability to 
manage development of a large, complex 
manned system. The Center also expanded 
its role to include extensive crew training 
responsibilities, using the time-honored tech- 
niques of simulation and step-by-step 

Beyond the series of Spacelab missions, 
another legacy is evolving. When the Presi- 
dent announced the Space Station initiative, 
he referred specifically to the engineering and 
scientific achievement of the Spacelab 1 mis- 
sion just a month earlier. The largest manned 
system ever attempted is the Space Station; 
architectural concepts for the new facility 
include Spacelab-type modules and pallets. 

The Space Station does not displace the 
Shuttle and Spacelab; rather, it extends their 
capabilities. The three programs are comple- 
mentary, and Marshall expects them to be 
parts of an integral system continually incor- 
porating new ideas and technology advances. 

The Spacelab work done at Marshall yes- 
terday and today is directly applicable to 
tomorrow's major project, the Space Station. 
The Center has sound credentials for develop- 
ing and managing large manned systems for 
space science and applications. Both the 
hardware and the functions of the proposed 
Space Station owe a debt to Spacelab which 
Marshall is uniquely prepared to redeem. As 
in the past, the Center is encouraging its resi- 
dent experts to meet the challenges of the 

fSpace Station 

The Marshall Center's three major lines of 
commitment converge at the Space Station. 
This ambitious project represents a synthesis 
of the Center's principal interests in vehicles, 
science payloads, and manned space sys- 
tems. As it moves into the Space Station era, 
Marshall Space Flight Center expects to use 
its various legacies for bold new ventures. 

In 1984, after years of preliminary concep- 
tual groundwork, NASA organized a full- 
fledged Space Station definition effort. 
Responsibilities for various Station elements 

The "Power Tower," NASA's reference configuration for Space Station planning 

"Tonight, I am directing 
NASA to develop a per- 
manently manned space 
station and to do it within 
a decade." 

President Ronald Reagan 
January 25, 1984 

were delegated to different centers, and Mar- 
shall received a major portion of the work: def- 
inition and preliminary design of pressurized 
common modules for use as laboratories, liv- 
ing areas, and logistic transport; environmen- 
tal control, life support systems, and 
propulsive systems; a module equipped as a 
laboratory and others as logistics modules; 
and accommodations for auxiliary Orbital 
Maneuvering Vehicles and Orbital Transfer 

The Space Station reference configuration 
selected as a beginning point for design stud- 
ies is called a "Power Tower." It consists of a 
tower of beams, solar panels, antennas, co- 
orbiting platforms, and enclosed modules; 
altogether the Space Station is about 400 feet 
in length, somewhat longer than a football 
field. Most of the technology for the Station's 
initial structure and systems is presently avail- 
able. However, the Space Station presents a 
host of new engineering challenges as Mar- 
shall, once again, seeks to do something that 
has never been attempted. 

Because the Space Station is intended to 
be permanent, it must be designed for mainte- 
nance, repair, and refurbishment. All mainte- 
nance and reconfiguration will occur in space 
and will be accomplished by astronauts or 
automated devices under the extraordinary 
working conditions of weightlessness, vac- 
uum, and 90-minute cycles of daylight and 
darkness. The design requirements for long- 
term maintainability demand advances in 
long-life materials, automated "expert sys- 
tems" for inspection and repair and remote 
operations, sophisticated contamination con- 
trol measures, crew mobility systems and 

A space station envisioned years ago 
by Dr. von Braun 


Assembling large space 
structures underwater at 

Evaluating techniques 

for construction 

projects in space 

tools, and new orbital repair techniques. 
Although some spacecraft are now being 
designed for repair or refurbishment in orbit, 
there is no precedent for orbital servicing on 
the scale of a Space Station. Astronauts have 
never yet welded in space, for example, nor 
have they had to seal punctures on a space- 
craft damaged by micrometeoroids. Space 
Station designers must plan for a variety of 
contingencies that were not factors in smaller, 
short-lived, or returnable spacecraft. 

The Space Station also must be designed 
for expansion as new technologies become 
available and as needs change. The initial 
configuration is a nucleus for an enlarged 
future Space Station having more elements. In 
addition to major structural changes, the 

"History will remember you 
as the pioneers, the bold 
ones who stepped out into 
this new frontier and made 
possible these great new 
dreams and new benefits 
that mankind is only just 
beginning to realize." 

Dr. Eberhard Rees, 1970 

Concept for a space 

operations center with 

elements similar to those 

evaluated at Marshall 

Marshall's underwater model of the 
Manned Maneuvering Unit, which 
extends range of astronauts working 
in space 



Space Station will change payloads as sci- 
ence and technology evolve; an entire observ- 
atory or laboratory may be replaced, or 
individual instruments may be exchanged for 
newer models. Evolutionary growth means fre- 
quent integration and deintegration of mission 
equipment. These activities are normally per- 
formed under stringent environmental and 
quality control conditions on the ground; 
designing and planning for these operations in 
space is another challenge. 

Apart from these formidable design prob- 
lems, the actual construction of the Space 
Station is a major challenge in systems engi- 
neering and logistics. Delivering all the parts 
into orbit and assembling them properly will be 
quite a feat. The Space Station is a complex 
configuration of large beams, towers, plat- 
forms, modules, and solar arrays. Containing 
all the cables, wiring, pipes and ductwork for 
its utilities services, the Space Station 
requires advances in systems that provide 
electrical power, fluid storage and distribution, 
environmental control, and life support. 
Advances in assembly techniques are also 
required to guarantee that all parts connect 
properly and function well. 

Marshall has already addressed many of 
the conceptual and practical problems associ- 
ated with building large structures in space. 
Since the mid-seventies, several feasibility 
and definition studies have focused on space 
platforms and power systems. Concurrently, 
alternative assembly and deployment tech- 
niques have been evaluated in the Neutral 
Buoyancy Simulator and NASA's KC-135 air- 
plane, and demonstrations are planned for 

upcoming Shuttle flights. For some such stud- 
ies, Marshall has used a prototype beam fabri- 
cation machine. 

The Center has also assessed the roles of 
humans and automated systems in space. To 
be economical and efficient, the Station must 
operate without a large contingent of mainte- 
nance workers and service personnel. Plan- 
ners are looking ahead to determine what 
tasks and functions can be handled by auto- 
mation and robots. 

To meet the challenges of Space Station 
architecture, utilities services, and auxiliary 
vehicles, the Center will rely on its resources 
in many engineering disciplines. New technol- 
ogy is required to improve the efficiency of vir- 
tually every subsystem. The Marshall Center 
is already involved in advanced technology for 
environmental control, attitude control, thermal 
control, propulsion, and long-life materials. 
Experts in structures, materials, dynamics, 
fluids, electronics, software, crew systems, 
and other areas of systems engineering are 
prepared and eager to join this new adventure 
in the utilization of space as a work place. 

Related work is also under way to evaluate 
complementary systems that would enhance a 
Space Station; large space structures, orbital 
transfer vehicles, and robotics and teleopera- 
tors are typical examples of advanced plan- 
ning concepts. Thus, Marshall is involved in 
comprehensive planning for a broad base of 
operations in space. 

The eventual extent of the Center's sphere 
of influence on the Space Station depends on 
the evolution of the Space Station itself. Many 
roles or functions are possible. The Center 
has anticipated them and has become suffi- 
ciently diverse in its mix of capabilities to 


Operator controlling a 
spacecraft rendezvous and 
docking simulation from 
remote control room 

Docking simulation in Marshall's teleoperation 
and robotics research laboratory 


assume any of the Space Station responsibili- 
ties with high confidence of success. 

Initially, the Space Station will be used as 
a service center for orbital craft and scientific 
payloads. Marshall already has a major role 
developing the accommodations for orbital 
servicing, and the Center may become 
responsible for outfitting the necessary work- 
shops and hangars. The Center is well quali- 
fied to develop both manual and automated 
techniques for orbital maintenance and repair 
services as well as tools and crew systems. 
Some of the pioneering work at Marshall in 
the next few years will be in the development 
of accommodations and techniques for a ser- 
vice station in space. 

The initial Space Station also will serve as 
an observatory platform for astronomy, solar 
science, and Earth observations. Marshall 
may provide new generations of research 
instruments for use there. The Center is well 
versed in the design and operation of space 
telescopes in all sizes and wavelength ranges. 
Besides astronomy instruments, the Center 
also has experience in the tools for Earth 
observations and space plasma physics 

Later, when the Space Station becomes a 
transportation node or launch site for space 
vehicles. Marshall may provide craft not only 
for nearby operations (the space "tugs") but 
also for lunar and planetary expeditions. Such 
far-ranging missions may be either manned or 
unmanned. As the Space Station becomes a 
large orbital base of operations for a fleet of 
vehicles. Marshall will once again play a major 
role in missions to the moon and beyond. The 
Center undoubtedly will become heavily 
involved in the exploration of space beyond 
low-Earth orbit. 

When the Station becomes a logistics 
base to support large-scale construction proj- 
ects in space or mining on the moon, Marshall 

may well provide the necessary technology. 
An intriguing idea now under study is propel- 
lant scavenging from discarded fuel tanks and 
surplus reservoirs on board orbital craft. 
Marshall may develop technology for siphon- 
ing operations and fuel depots in space. Plan- 
ning and eventually managing the assembly of 
large space structures and the integration and 
checkout of their payloads will be major activi- 
ties at the Marshall Center. 

When the Space Station or nearby plat- 
forms develop into manufacturing sites for 
space-processed materials, Marshall's role in 
the commercial use of space will grow dramat- 
ically. Already the Center sponsors extensive 
research in microgravity materials processing 
for both commercial and scientific missions. 
Some participants speculate that materials 
science has the same potential for commer- 
cial development in space as that already 
achieved by the communications industry. 
Marshall is prepared to cooperate with private 
industry as a partner in this endeavor. 

A relatively recent consideration in Space 
Station planning is the use of tethers, long 
cables attached to the Station. Already under 
development at Marshall, these tethers can 
serve a variety of purposes: as "leashes" to 
keep co-orbiting spacecraft from drifting too 
far away, as lines to "reel in" freeflying craft 
for servicing, as "elevators" to transfer sup- 
plies between higher and lower craft without 
actual docking, or as power lines in an electri- 
cal power generating system. The list of 
potential tether applications is growing, and 
the Center expects to do some exciting work 
with tethers in the near future. 

In short, Space Station activities will influ- 
ence the growth of the Center for the next 
quarter century. Marshall anticipates a greatly 
expanded role in orbital assembly and servic- 
ing activities and in lunar and deep space 
exploration. Having already introduced joint 
endeavor agreements for commercial ven- 
tures in space, Marshall expects to develop 
new kinds of business partnerships in the 
Space Station era. Marshall also will be taking 
advantage of the opportunity to do continuous 
scientific research on orbit 24 hours a day, 
365 days a year. The Center has proven capa- 
bilities in all the relevant disciplines of science, 
engineering, and management to evolve with 
the Space Station. 

With the Center's strong legacies to their 
credit, Marshall's experts today are in an envi- 
able position. They are the ones who will real- 
ize the dream of the early rocket pioneers - a 
permanent presence in space. ■ 

Vision of the future: 
concept for the Space Station 

Concept for a commercii 

materials processing facilit 

near the Space Statio 


Concept for a mining base on the moon 

"We can follow our 
dreams to distant stars, 
living and working in space 
for peaceful, economic, 
and scientific gain." 

President Ronald Reagan 

redit for the suc- 
cesses of Marshall 
Space Flight Center 
during its first quarter 
century belongs to 
the employees. Refer- 
ences to the multidisci- 
plinary capabilities of 
this Center are really ref- 
erences to people - to engi- 
neers, scientists, managers, 
procurement and finance specialists, secre- 
taries, computer and communications techni- 
cians, illustrators, attorneys and personnel 
specialists, machinists, welders, and workers 
in a host of other occupations throughout the 
laboratories, shops, and offices. Over the 
years, four directors have guided the Center 
through a carefully planned diversification 
from one dominant program in the early 
Saturn years to the broad variety of programs 

Dr. Wernher von Braun, from 1960 to 1970, 
brought Marshall Space Flight Center into 
existence and directed the tremendous Saturn 

"Marshall's people are its 
strongest assets. . . people 
with a sense of the impor- 
tance of the work they are 
doing and pride in their 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

Dr. Wernher von Braun 
Director, 1960-1970 

Dr. Eberhard flees 
Director, 1970-1973 

Dr. Rocco A. Petrone 
Director, 1973-1974 

endeavor with energy and foresight. Dr. 
von Braun's challenge, indeed NASA's chal- 
lenge, was to form an organization of the best 
talent to invent and prove the technology for 
launch vehicles capable of sending Americans 
to the moon. That no one knew exactly where 
the moon was or precisely how to get there 
was no deterrent. The technological effort of 
the Saturn years is without parallel in our his- 
tory. Never before nor since have so many 
people in government, industry, and universi- 
ties been orchestrated to work together on a 
project of such complexity and originality as 
the manned lunar landing. 

As the Saturn launch vehicles became 
reality, Marshall's leadership envisioned other 
roles for the Center. With foresight and prud- 
ence, the Center embarked on a carefully 
planned, deliberate course of diversification 
into the development of scientific payloads, 
manned systems, and other vehicles for fur- 
ther exploration and utilization of space. The 
first Director of the Program Development 
office, established in 1969 to guide Marshall's 
evolution toward new responsibilities, was Dr. 
W. R. Lucas. During his tenure in this position, 
the Center began a concentrated effort to 
broaden the scope of its missions and con- 
ceive new post-Apollo programs for the space 

Meanwhile, Dr. Eberhard Rees served as 
Center Director from 1970 to 1973 during a 
period of transition. Under his leadership, the 
Saturn-Apollo program was completed, the 
Skylab program was implemented, and formu- 
lation of the Shuttle concept began. During 
the tenure of Dr. Rees, the agency, and the 
Marshall Center in particular, experienced fis- 
cal and manpower reductions that presented 
new managerial challenges. Although many 
valued employees were lost, the Center 
retained its capabilities in all disciplines and 
emerged from this period with renewed 

For the next year, Dr. Rocco Petrone 
served as Marshall's Director and presided 
over the extraordinary Skylab program. In 
three successful missions, including the dra- 
matic rescue operations, Marshall demon- 
strated convincing expertise in scientific 
payloads and manned systems. The Center 
reapplied experience gained in the develop- 
ment of launch vehicles to this ambitious sys- 
tems engineering project and succeeded 

admirably. During this period, the Center's 
organization was restructured to accommo- 
date Marshall's changing roles and responsi- 
bilities. The result has been a streamlined, 
more efficient institution, ambitious and 

In 1974, Dr. W. R. Lucas began his term as 
Center Director, a position he holds today and 
has held longer than any other Marshall 
Center Director. Marshall bears the stamp of 
his influence. As Dr. Lucas advanced through 
key positions at all levels from the laboratory 
onward, he has insisted on the virtues of com- 
petence, discipline, and the commitment to 
excellence. Under his leadership, the Center 
has become diversified and has remained one 
of the foremost technical and managerial ele- 
ments of NASA. It has been speculated that 
the systems engineering capabilities of the 
Marshall Center could be applied to any large- 
scale technological challenge - a national 
transportation system, for example, or energy 
systems - and Marshall could handle the 
problem just as successfully as it has met its 
space program challenges. This multidiscipli- 
nary expertise is rare and valuable. 

With the leadership of these four directors, 
Marshall Space Flight Center has established 
a reputation for technical competence. The 
Center has had major responsibilities for 
many of NASA's key programs in launch vehi- 
cle development, scientific spacecraft, orbital 
laboratories, and pioneering research. While 

"Although we look with 
pride on our achievements 
of the past. . . we recognize 
that we must prove our- 
selves each year." 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

Dr. William R. Lucas 
Director since 1974 


these past achievements are a source of 
pride, their real importance today is that they 
are the foundation for the Center's future. In 
these accomplishments, Marshall has devel- 
oped the ability and experience to meet the 
new challenges of the Space Station era. 
Exciting opportunities for achievement 
await the next generation of Marshall leader- 
ship and employees. Establishment of a per- 
manent presence in space on a manned 
space station, ventures into deeper space, 
perhaps a return to the moon or manned 
excursions to the planets, development of new 
space vehicles, commercial enterprise in 
space, sophisticated orbital laboratories and 
observatories all demand ingenuity, skills, and 
talent on a scale comparable to that of the 


■■■■■! ■■!■■■■ 

I l ; l! ! : il ! 


I 1 |! ; . II jLii 


Scenes from the Marshall 
Center's 25th Anniversary 


The challenges of the future require expe- 
rienced managers, engineers, and scientists 
and also the abilities of highly motivated 
young professionals. The Marshall Center 
today is in an excellent posture to meet the 
future. The current work force is a blend of 
mature employees and new recruits. Many of 
the experienced employees have worked on 
several major projects and have risen to lead- 
ership positions, applying their competence 
from one program to the next. This continuity 
of skill and experience is enhanced by the 
infusion of new talent; entry level employees, 
fresh out of educational and training pro- 
grams, add new knowledge and capabilities to 
Marshall's inventory. 

Engineers and scientists make up almost 
two-thirds of the Marshall Center work force 
today, with a wide variety of business profes- 
sionals, clerical personnel, and technicians 
making up the other third. More than two- 
thirds of the employees have college degrees, 
and many have earned graduate degrees. 
The Center has proficiency in all the relevant 
engineering disciplines for complex space 
systems, and its cells of science are advanc- 
ing the frontiers of space research. The work 
force skills are sufficient and well balanced to 
meet the challenges of the present and fore- 

seeable future. Expertise in many fields invig- 
orates this Center and keeps it strong and 

The Marshall Center is a highly disciplined 
organization noted for its technical excellence 
and meticulous attention to detail. Its bold 
achievements result from careful planning and 
methodical progress by people who are dedi- 
cated to the common goal of excellence. As 
Marshall people meet the challenges of the 
nation's space program, usually pushing the 
state of the art within tight schedule and fund- 
ing constraints, they insist on "doing things 
right" and "making it work." The personnel 
here are confident, creative, and well prepared 
to tackle any problem; if the appropriate mate- 
rials or methods do not exist, Marshall people 
will develop them. 

The disciplined work ethic here arises in 
part from the Center's proven management 
philosophy and also from the individual's 
sense of responsibility. People are aware of 
the historic importance of their work and are 
challenged daily to be perfectionists, to give 
their best effort. This commitment to excel- 
lence fosters personal satisfaction and is the 
basis for the Center's many successes. 

These attitudes and values enrich the 
broader community as well as the Center. 
Marshall's people are active in civic affairs in 
Huntsville and the surrounding areas, giving 
generously of their time and talents to 
enhance the quality of life here. They bring to 
a multitude of community projects the same 
devotion and energy that characterize their 
NASA work. The annual Combined Federal 
Campaign of charitable fund-raising is but one 
impressive example of employees' contribu- 
tions to the community; the roster of contribu- 
tors and volunteers to virtually every civic 
organization includes Marshall employees. 

The Center is fortunately situated in a sup- 
portive community, where it enjoys a friendly 
relationship with its neighbors, the United 
States Army on Redstone Arsenal and the 
universities in Huntsville. The mutually benefi- 
cial community ties that originated in the 
1950's are sustained at the institutional and 
individual levels by people whose dedication 
reaches beyond the work place. 

The people of Marshall Space Flight 
Center are its strongest asset, as important to 
the present and future space program as the 
rocketry pioneers were to the past. Like the 
early von Braun rocket team, they are a 
unique national resource. ■ 


.•*& 1 E •* 'i* 

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1 • 1 


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Alabama Space and Rocket Center Archives photo 

"Our community has been 
and continues to be vitally 
important to the success of 
America's space program." 

Dr. W. R. Lucas 

Community ties 












Hi] : [ i ] k 1 1 t\'m%musm. 


Explorer I (Jupiter C) 
launched America's 
first satellite (1958) 

Saturn development 
authorized (1958) 

Saturn program given 
highest national priority 

1st Mercury-Redstone 
launch with live payload 
1st manned Mercury- 
Redstone launch and 
suborbital flight 
1st Saturn I launch 

2 Saturn I launches 

• 3 Saturn I launches. 

• 3 Saturn IB launches 

• Apollo 4. 

last in series of 10 

1st Saturn V 

Saturn I launch 

• 3 Saturn I launches 


Apollo 14 (Saturn V). 
3rd manned lunar landing 
Apollo 15 (Saturn V), 
4th manned lunar landing 

MSFC Space Shuttle 
assignments announced 


Explorer I. discovery of 
Van Allen radiation belts 

Project Highwater 

3 Pegasus micro- 
meteoroid detection 
satellites launched 

Skylab Apollo Telescope 
Mount project began 

Apollo 16 (Saturn V). 
5th manned lunar landing 
Apollo 17 (Saturn V), 
6th manned lunar landing 

Space Shuttle configu- 
ration announced 


1st microgravity 
materials processing 
demonstrations and 

Space Telescope 
assigned to MSFC 

Apollo Telescope Mount 
(Skylab) EVA exercises 
held in Neutral Buoyancy 
Simulator (NBS) 

Lunar Roving 
Vehicle driven 
on moon 

Static Test Tower 
(Bldg. 4572) completed 

NASA established by 
National Aeronautics 
and Space Act (1958) 

Project Mercury 
authorized (1958) 
Project Mercury astro- 
nauts selected (1959) 

MSFC established; 
Dr. Wernher von Braun 
named 1st Director 

President Eisenhower 
dedicated MSFC 

President Kennedy set 
goal of manned lunar 
landing by end of decade 

Michoud Operations 
production facility added 

Construction of Saturn 
launch facilities in 
Florida under MSFC 

President Kennedy 
visited MSFC 

Sliriell Computer Facility 

MSFC Launch Operations 
Directorate became 
separate NASA Center 
in Florida 

1 Central Laboratory and 

Office Building 

(4200) completed 
1 Propulsion Test Facility 

(F1 Engined Test Stand. 

Bldg. 4696) completed 

Misissippi Test Opera- 
tions added (later 
renamed Mississippi 
Test Facility) 

Major MSFC reorgani- 
zation established 
two directorates 

Barge docks and 
Saturn Road built 

Saturn V Dynamic 

Test Facility 

(Bldg. 4550) completed 

Propulsion Systems 
Components Test Facility 
(F-1 Turbopump Test 
Facility) (4548) complete 

Engine Component Test 
Facility (Test Complex 
300) completed 

Model Propulsion 
Systems Test Complex 
(Bldg. 4540) completed 
Target Motion Simulator 
activated in Bldg. 4663 


Vehicle Components 
Hangar (4755) completed 

Thermal Vacuum 
Chamber (Bldg. 4557) 

Machine Shop and 
Assembly Shop 
(Bldg. 4550) completed 
Propulsion System Test 
Stand (3-IVB Test Stand 
for J-2 Engines. Bldg. 
4514) and cryogenic 
storage facilities 

HOSC established in 
Bldg. 4663 

Load Test Annex 
(Bldg 4619) constructed 

Propulsion System 
Component Test Stand/ 
Test Complex 500 
(Bldg. 4522) and related 
facilities completed 

Welding Shop, Electrical 
Shop (Bldg. 4705) 

Saturn/Apollo Applica- 
tions Office established 

S-ll Structural Test 
Facility (Bldg. 4699) 

Neutral Buoyancy 
Space Simulator 
(Bldg. 4705) completed 

Major MSFC reorgani- 
zation, four directorates 

Motion System activated 
in Bldg. 4663 

Solar Magnetograph 
Facility (Bldg. 4347) 

Space Shuttle Task 
Team established 

Lunar Roving 
Vehicle used 
on 2 missions 

Dr. Wernher von Braun 
reassigned to NASA 

Dr. Eberhard Rees 
became Center Director 

Major MSFC 

Program offices 
established for Skylab 
and HEAO 

Shuttle Projects Office 

President Nixon 
announced decision 
to develop Shuttle 

3 multidisciplinary 
Skylab missions with 
Apollo Telescope Mount 
solar observatory, MSFC 
investigations in 
materials processing 
and solar physics. 

Space Telescope defin- 
ition and preliminary 
design activities began 

Saturn V test stand 
used as drop tower for 
microgravity materials 
processing experiments 

Final Skylab mission 
(84 days) completed 

1st in series of 10 
SPAR flights of materials 
processing experiments 

Lageos and Gravitational 
Probe A launched 

2 SPAR flights 

HEA0-1 launched, 
discoveries reported 

HEA0-2 telescope 
tested in new X-Ray 
Calibration Facility 

Spacelab 1 and 2 
investigators selected, 
first meetings held 

Space Telescope 
investigators selected 

SPAR flight 

Spacelab simulation 
(ASSESS) held 

HEAO-2 launched; sent 
1st X-ray image of star 

AXAF conceptual design 
study completed 

SPAR flight 

MSFC studied large 
space platforms 

HEAO-2 discoveries 

HEAO-3 launched 

Skylab re-entered 
atmosphere and dis- 

Spacelab 3 
investigators selected 

MSFC assigned manage- 
ment responsibilities for 
OSTA-2 Shuttle mission 
payload, Materials 
Experiment Assembly 
SPAR flight 

2 SPAR flights 

1st Joint Endeavor 
Agreement (MSFC and 
McDonnell Douglas) for 
materials processing 
in space 

SPAR flight 

Space Telescope 
mirror polishing 

Spacelab 1 mission 
70 experiments in 
5 disciplines: mission 
scientist, some principal 
investigators and 
co-investigators from 

10th and final 
SPAR flight 

Solar Array Flight 
mission, demonstration 
of advanced solar array 

Space Telescope's 
Optical Telescope 
Assembly completed 
and delivered 

Spacelab 2 mission. 
13 investigations 
in 7 disciplines 

Spacelab 3 mission, 
15 investigations 
in 5 disciplines 

Space Telescope 
assembly in progress 

Skylab launched, 3 
manned Skylab missions 

Many NBS tests for 
Skylab EVA repairs 

Europeans agreed to 
develop Spacelab for 
Shuttle flights 

Record 84-day Skylab 
manned mission 

Test Project 

Spacelab 1 and 
Spacelab 2 project 
management assigned 
to MSFC 

Spacelab 3 project 
management assigned 
to MSFC 

Skylab reactivated for 
possible reuse, reboost, 
or deboost; project 
discontinued within 
the year 

Spacelab 1 and 
Spacelab 2 payload 
specialists selected: 
crew training began 

Fuli-scale Orbiter cargo 
bay installed in NBS 

Tests of Space 
Telescope servicing 
procedures and assembly 
techniques for large 
space structures held 
in NBS 

ESA delivered major 
Spacelab components 

• Spacelab 3 payload 
specialists selected 

• 1st flight of Spacelab 
(10 days) 

Spacelab integration 

MSFC assigned Space 
Station responsibilities 

Spacelab 2 mission 
Spacelab 3 mission 

Dr. Eberhard Rees retired 

Dr. Rocco A. Petrone 
became Center Director 

Spacelab Program Office 

Michoud Assembly 
Facility modified for 
production of Shuttle 
External Tanks 

Dr. Petrone reassigned 
to NASA Headquarters 

Dr. William R. Lucas 
became Center Director 

Science & Engineering 
Directorate reorganized 

Mississippi Test Facility 
became independent 
NASA installation 
(National Space 
Technology Laboratories) 

Robotic & Teleoperator 
System Evaluation 
Facility activated in 
Bldg. 4705 

Conversion of Saturn 
facilities for Shuttle 
testing initiated 

Spacelab Payload Project 
Office established 

Special Projects 
Office established 
Saturn Program Office 
phased out 

X-Ray Calibration & 
Test Facility completed 
in Bldg. 4708 

Solar Heating & Cooling 
Test Facility opened 

Space Telescope Project 
Office established 
Saturn IB Static Test 
Stand (Bldg. 4572) 
modified for Solid 
Rocket Booster testing 

Saturn IC Dynamic Test 
Facility (Bldg. 4550) 
modified for Shuttle 

Materials Processing in 
Space Projects Office 

Space Shuttle unloading 
facility prepared at 
Redstone Arsenal 
Shuttle route modified 
from Airfield to test 

HOSC reactivated for 
Shuttle launch support 

Spacelab Payload Crew 
Training Complex 
activated in Bldg. 4612 

' Integrated Software 
Development Facility 
& Ground Computer 
Development Laboratory 
activated (both in 
Bldg. 4708) 

1 25 kW Power Module 
Project Office 
established within 
Program Development 
Space Station Platform 
Project Office estab- 
lished within Program 
Development (evolved 
from 25kW Power 
Module Project Office) 

1st Productivity Enhance- 
ment Facilities con- 
structed in Bldg. 4707 

President Reagan 
approved Space Station 

Space Station Projects 
Office established 
Teleoperator and Robot- 
ics Evaluation Facility 
opened in Bldg. 4619 

Work began on Payload 
Operations Control Center 
facility in Bldg. 4663 

Huntsville population: 
16 000(1950) 
German rocket group 
moved to Huntsville 

Huntsville Symphony 
organized (1955) 

Huntsville population 

• J.F. Drake State 
Technical College opened 

• Research Institute 

Huntsville Arts Council 

Cummings Research 
Park established 
U.S. Army MICOM 

UAH Foundation 

New Chamber of 
Commerce and municipal 
buildings completed 
Jetplex Industrial Park 

Lowe Industrial Park 

Madison County 
Industrial Park established 

New Huntsville-Madison 
County Public Library 

County Jetplex opened 

New Madison County 
Courthouse completed 

U.S. Army Advanced 
BMD Agency formed 

University of Alabama 
in Huntsville (UAH) 

Huntsville Association 
of Technical Societies 

Grissom, White, Chaffee 
public schools dedicated 

Huntsville population: 

Alabama Space <S 
Rocket Center opened 

Huntsville Museum of Art 

Construction began on 
Memorial Parkway 
overpass system 

UAH School of Primary 
Medical Care 

and BMDATC established 

Alabama ASM Centennial 
Von Braun Civic Center 

First phase of Memorial 
Parkway overpass 
system completed 

Huntsville population: 

Port of Entry and 
U.S. Customs Office at 
Jetplex opened 

Alabama Space 
& Rocket Center 
Space Camp established 
1st Panoply of the 
Arts Festival 

International Intermodal 
Facility construction 
began at Jetplex 

Foreign Trade Zone 

Interstate spur I-565 
construction began 
Joe Davis stadium 
opened; Huntsville Stars 
baseball team